Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to declare states of emergencies for several major cities, including Tokyo and Osaka, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The measures included in the orders will likely delay those regions in their integrated casino resort progress.
Japan’s health ministry says the country has 3,654 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 84 deaths. A cruise ship quarantined in the port of Yokohama near Tokyo is believed to have another 712 COVID-19 patients, and 11 are dead on the vessel.
The highest concentration of cases is in the Tokyo capital, where 1,116 infections have been confirmed.
We need to ask everyone to step up cooperation,” Abe said of his state of emergencies, which he will officially confirm Tuesday. “It’s to protect the people’s health and their lives.”
Osaka has the best odds of being designated with one of the three IR casino licenses. MGM Resorts has partnered with Japanese financial services conglomerate Orix Corporation to bid with the prefecture and federal government for one of the integrated resort concessions.
Guidance, Not Order
Abe says the state of emergencies is to reinforce social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines, but will not result in lockdown orders. There will also be no penalties for those who violate the state of emergency declarations.
Along with Tokyo and Osaka, Abe is expected to declare state emergencies for Fukuoka and four other hard-hit prefectures.
Late last month, officials in Osaka announced what everyone monitoring Japan’s casino efforts was already thinking: opening an integrated resort in time for the city’s hosting of the 2025 World Expo isn’t realistic. The city’s government cited the coronavirus as reason for its decision to extend its request for proposal (RFP) period by six months.
The Tokyo Olympics postponement to the summer of 2021 is expected to also impede the casino process.
“In this situation, there are a lot of people for whom the January to July 2021 IR certification application period will be extremely inconvenient,” Takashi Kiso, CEO of Japan’s International Casino Institute, told the Japan Times.
Kiso added that the global health crisis is also reason for Japan to push back its casino licensing plans.
“Local governments and integrated casino resort operators who are dealing with the shock of the coronavirus in their home countries will find it very difficult to move their preparations in Japan forward. The Japanese government should revise the application period,” he declared.
Japan’s federal government is aiding its residents with rescue funds to combat the coronavirus.
On Monday, Abe announced a 108 trillion yen ($1 trillion) stimulus package to help counter the economic impact of COVID-19. Families with “severe income loss” will receive a one-time payment of roughly $2,750.
In Tokyo, the local government approved a $202 million supplemental budget to cover virus testing, medical supplies, and hotel stays for asymptomatic coronavirus patients.
Tokyo Medical Association Chairman Haruo Ozaki says the situation “is already critical” because of residents failing to heed social distancing guidelines and staying home when possible.