Tipped New Japanese Prime Minister to See IR Completed

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Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga is expected to continue outgoing Japanese prime minister’s policy towards boosting tourism and liberalizing the casino market.

Shinzo Abe’s Legacy Lives on with Yoshihide Suga

With Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stepping down, there were fears, however briefly, that the Integrated Resort (IR) project due to arrive in 2025 would fall through. Yet, the man who will step in Mr. Abe’s shoes, Yoshihide Suga, the chief cabinet secretary, has given clear signs on Friday that the legacy of the IR initiative will live on with or without Mr. Abe at the ruler.

Mr. Suga is not yet officially confirmed in the position yet, but he is tipped to step in as the new prime minister. Mr. Abe stepped down on August 28, reportedly because of health concerns, but some have blamed the prime minister for his way of handling the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, Mr. Suga released an official manifesto on Wednesday, September 2 that was described as his attempt to lobby for the Mr. Abe’s position. At the end of last week, Mr. Suga also discussed the upcoming IR project, the first of three resorts planned to arrive in the country over the next decades.

Mr. Suga spoke in Kanagawa prefecture, one of the administrations bidding to host an Integrated Resort project in Yokohama City. In fact, the city’s administration has already submitted an official application to the national authorities, seeking permission to proceed with construction work.

Everything Says the IR Will Arrive on Time

Why observers are emboldened about the upcoming Integrated Resort is because Mr. Sugar is the deputy director-general of a national government body that is spearheading the project. However, Yokohama is not yet in the clear.

Some local activists have signed a local petition and previously in August, Yokohama mayor said that the city would not reveal its own implementation policy until such a time that the central government has issued its own policy for IRs.

As things stand, most investors would need at least four years to get the Integrated Resort up and running, with the deadline quickly narrowing down. Meanwhile, the first phase of introducing casinos in Japan will not be completed until all three integrated resorts have been completed.

While difficulties continue to persist, several observers have reaffirmed their optimism about Mr. Suga’s course of action towards an IR project realization. After all, Mr. Suga was there in December 2012 when Mr. Abe’s attempts to change public perception started in earnest and he has been on board with the outgoing prime minister ever since.

Part of Mr. Abe’s legacy is to also promote tourism, similar to what Macau said the region would do a few days ago. To do so, Mr. Abe is betting on slashing mobile charges, liberalizing gambling, and going through with the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

Not even opposition from local dissidents is very likely to interrupt the progress Japan has made on integrated resorts.

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