Snap election threatens IR legislation schedule

It has become more likely that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will dissolve the extraordinary Diet session scheduled to begin at the end of this month and call a snap general election for October 22 or October 29.

Should this scenario unfold, it would mean passage of both the gambling anti-addiction legislation as well as the crucial IR Implementation Bill would almost certainly be pushed back until next June, or possibly much later, complicating the casino plans of international operators and local governments alike.

Due largely to the missile crisis with North Korea, Abe has witnessed a rebound in his public approval ratings, and at the same time the opposition parties are in greater-than-usual disarray. The temptation for the prime minister to call an election at this juncture of his temporary advantage will likely prove overwhelming.

If so, there may not be any legislation passed in Japan until next year’s ordinary Diet session, at which the priority, as always, will be to pass the national fiscal year budget.

Conceivably, a general election could also significantly change the balance of forces between pro-casino and anti-casino lawmakers, though that is not a very likely outcome.

The main problem for the passage of the IR-related legislation in the event that a general election is held in October will be that it is simply not a top-level priority in comparison with other critical items on the agenda, and thus the scheduling of Diet debate could prove to be challenging for some time to come.

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