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Abe criticized for supporting gambling bill to boost economy

(People's Daily Online)    16:48, December 16, 2016

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was criticized for supporting a casino bill that has divided parties and public opinion. Opponents believe that if gambling houses are legalized, the crime rate will rise and gambling addiction will become a more serious problem.

On Dec. 13, Japan's lower house of parliament passed a bill to legalize casino gambling in Japan, despite both parties being divided on the issue and some opposition parties staging a walkout during the vote. The legislation is aimed primarily at enhancing revenue from tourism by permitting integrated resort facilities, some of which may have shopping malls, conference halls and other entertainment facilities located in the same establishments as casinos.

Occupying the highest position of the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party, Abe was a staunch supporter of the legalization after so-called Abenomics proved ineffective. He considered it a strategy to stimulate Japan’s economic growth. Early in May 2014, he surveyed an integrated resort with casinos in Singapore.

The Japan Daiwa Institute of Research predicted that if Japan opened three gambling houses, it would create an annual net profit of $10 billion, or 0.2 percent of the country's GDP. However, given its connection to addiction and gambling, the bill has been controversial in Japan, drawing oppositions from other parties including the New Komeito Party, partner of the ruling party.

Opponents argued that once gambling houses were legalized, Japan's crime rate would rise and gambling addictions would multiply. There are already 5 million people in Japan addicted to gambling, or 5 percent of all adults, according to 2014 statistics. This number is significantly higher than the 1 percent in many other countries.

“Gambling will encourage unhealthy trends of reaping without sowing; it will damage economic development. During the Meiji Restoration, the first measure taken by Emperor Meiji to develop Japan’s economy was eliminating gambling, yet the Liberal Democratic Party is now putting forward a gambling economy,” said a senator from the Communist Party.

The latest poll by Japan Broadcasting Corporation showed that only 12 percent of Japanese people support the bill, while its opponents have reached 44 percent. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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