Monday, April 21, 2014

Casino Gambling in Japan?

There has been quite a bit of chatter over the last few months about the possibility of Japan legalizing gambling.  The big international gaming companies have been lobbying Japanese politicians to change the laws, and presented plans for prospective resorts in casinos in some of Japan’s major cities.  Abe Shinzo himself made an appearance at a gaming industry event in Tokyo last fall, and pundits read his appearance as support of the inevitability of changes that will legalize new types of gambling in Japan.  Japan’s present gaming laws prohibit casino gambling, but allow bets on horse, bicycle and boat races, and non-cash reward games.  There are a number of reasons Japan would consider legalizing casino gambling and reason to prevent it.  Legalization would raise tax revenue, keep more money in Japan, and possibly create more job opportunities in the casinos themselves and in the regulatory apparatus.  But the wealthy pachinko business can afford to fight back, alongside anti-gambling elements in the Japanese polity.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Next Verse, Same as the First

              There is a noticeable tendency for tensions between Pyongyang and Seoul to flare up in the spring.  Last year North Korea sealed the border, closed factories in the Kaesong Industrial Zone and denounced US-ROKA exercises as a provocation.  Said military exercises occur every year.  Two years ago, North Korea announced it would resume nuclear tests, and the US Navy dispatched Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington to South Korea in response.  Well, last week, on Sunday March 30, North Korea fired artillery into the ocean, over the armistice line, and the Southern Navy responded in kind.  Then on Monday March 31 the South Korean Defense Ministry announced they had recovered a crashed North Korean drone.  These events are nothing new, but later in the week Prime Minister of Japan Abe Shinzo ordered the Marine Self-Defense Force to patrol the Sea of Japan with an AEGIS-equipped destroyer and shoot down any North Korean missiles bringing a new factor into the mix: the Japanese might actually do something.  Previously, Japan was the least powerful party interested in the tension on the Korean peninsula.  However, if the Japanese were to actually shoot down a North Korean device the rest of the region would have to take them more seriously.