Medical and children’s groups oppose IR bid in Hokkaido

Six local medical and children’s organizations presented Hokkaido Vice-Governor Yasuhiro Tsuji on Tuesday with a petition opposing any IR bid from within the prefecture. Hokkaido is the only prefecture in which multiple local municipalities are considering the hosting of an IR—Tomakomai city, Kitahiroshima city, and Rusutsu village.

The delegation opposing an IR bid was led by Takeshi Ujiie, chairman of the Hokkaido Child and Adolescent Mental Health Association, who told the vice-governor, “As people wishing for the healthy development of children’s hearts and minds, we oppose the bids for an IR that would include a casino.”

The text of the joint statement published on Ujiie’s organization’s website explained, “Even though casinos do not yet exist in Japan, gambling addiction threatens children. With some parents caught up in pachinko and other forms of gambling, household finances have been destroyed, nurturing environments have collapsed, and children have suffered from poverty and neglect. From the point of view of the healthy development of children, gambling addiction is a huge problem which must be resolved.”

The statement continued, “Additionally, we are strongly concerned that gambling itself may adversely affect the mental development of adolescents. Gambling stimulates desires and creates monetary illusions which may distort the spirit of adolescents at the very time in which their personalities and social conscience are forming.”

The appeal to the prefectural government also included a call to develop effective anti-addiction countermeasures even in the absence of IR casinos.

The six groups which issued the joint statement were the Hokkaido Child and Adolescent Mental Health Association, the Hokkaido Society of Certified Clinical Psychologists, the Hokkaido Child Abuse Prevention Society, the Hokkaido Children's Homes Association Council, the Sapporo Child Care Facility Association, and the National Self-Reliance Assistance Home Association-Hokkaido Block. Two additional organizations offered support to the joint statement: the Sapporo Pediatric Association and the Hokkaido Association of Psychiatric Social Workers.

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