Kyushu’s leading newspaper editorializes against IR

Kyushu leading newspaper editorializes against IR

The Nishinippon Shinbun, the leading regional newspaper of the Japanese island of Kyushu, editorialized on Monday against the IR development plan in Nagasaki that is supported by the region’s governors.

This fact demonstrates that even in the region of Japan that has been most tolerant of IR development at the level of its politicians and in some public opinion polls, the concept of casino legalization remains unpopular and has never gained any traction with the Japanese news media.

“Isn’t it reckless to just push forward against such a headwind,” the editorial begins, “and shouldn’t we stop here and reconsider?”

The editorial goes on to provide its readers with basic information about IRs and Nagasaki’s development plans, including the potential economic benefits, but it then also asks whether or not all the calculations made before the Covid-19 pandemic should stand without revision in the world going forward.

“The management of the global casino industry is undergoing drastic changes due to the coronavirus disaster. Overseas businesses have been forced to undertake measures such as business suspensions and strict social distancing, ​​and their business performances have consequently deteriorated across the board. Of the seven companies that participated in the preliminary discussions with Yokohama city, the largest US company in the industry has now withdrawn,” the editorial observed.

The Nishinippon Shinbun then got to the heart of its argument: “In spite of all this, the attitude about promotion IRs has not changed. In the era of the coronavirus, where infection control is indispensable, can IRs truly be a driving force for tourism in Kyushu? The number of inbound tourists is almost zero at present, and recovery depends on the trajectory of the coronavirus disaster. The structural weaknesses of the IR initiative have just been highlighted.”

The editorial added that the nation had experienced something similar in the past when the Bubble Economy collapsed at the end of the 1980s, and massive resort facilities that had been planned or had been constructed were left to collapse under mountains of debt.

Their bottom line: “Even without casinos, there are people who will come to Japan to enjoy the unique culture and the nature of our country. Now that the future has become uncertain, we should sit down and explore a better strategy for tourism promotion.”

Michael Penn is a journalist and scholar based in Tokyo, Japan. As a journalist, he both writes print news articles and produces news videos. On the video side, he has several years of experience doing it all by himself: reporting the stories, shooting the video, and editing the packages. As a scholar, the bulk of his past publications have been about Japan's modern relations with the Islamic world.