Fri, Feb 07, 2003 - Page 11 News List

Japanese authorities urge loosening of gambling law

AFP , TOKYO

The metropolitan Tokyo government and four other regional authorities yesterday urged the state to lift a ban on casinos to boost their finances amid the economic slump, officials said.

"Local governments are having difficulties revitalizing regional economies ... and the establishment of casinos could be an effective measure," the local governments said in a joint statement.

"Casinos are powerful tourism resources, and there are strong expectations that the new gaming industry would have a positive effect on the economy and create jobs," they said.

Casinos, like most forms of gambling, are banned in Japan but the statement called for legal changes to bring Japan into line with many other countries.

The statement delivered to the government was issued in the name of Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, Osaka Governor Fusae Ichikawa and the prefectural heads of Shizuoka located southwest of Tokyo, western Japan's Wakayama and southern Japan's Miyazaki.

Ishihara triggered debate over casinos in 1999 when he announced he planned to build Japan's first legal casino on the capital's vast waterfront development Odaiba.

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