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Councilor downplays value of casinos in Okinawa’s economy

Date Posted: 2007-12-06

The Liberal Democracy Party heralded the value of casino gambling for Okinawa during a weekend seminar in Naha, but Keiko Itokazu argued costs and gambling addictions overshadow any economic gains.

Itokazu wasn’t at the Liberal Democratic Party’s conference on Okinawa’s economic circumstances at the Pacific Hotel. Instead, she was participating in the ‘Casino Matter Symposium 2007 Executive Committee’ conference at Tiruru Center in Naha City. The casino symposium was geared to concerns by women about possible problems casinos on Okinawa would bring to the community.

The Chairman of the LDP’s General Affairs Department led the economics conference. Toshihiro Nikai presented the argument Saturday that a casino system would make Okinawa’s economy more viable and active.

Itokazu, a Social Democratic Party of Japan member holding a House of Councilors seat in Okinawa, centered her arguments on a symposium report from Macao, which is home to many large casinos. “Macao is usually very safe, and security maintained in keeping the peace,” Itokazu acknowledged, but added “it will cost a lot to keep peace in Okinawa because police would have to work harder, and a lot more policemen would be needed to protect the country.” She predicted “the cost of protection might be a minus for Okinawa,” and thinks “casinos will not bring any money.”

The lady lawmaker published a questionnaire about gambling addictions and their effects on families, noting 20 cases where people had gone to Prefecture Consultation Centers for help with family gambling problems. Itokazu pointed out the cases involved mothers and wives who didn’t consider themselves sick, but acknowledged they borrow money to gamble, and concede the gambling disrupts family life.

Panelist Ikkei Tamamoto joined Itokazu in rejecting the merits of the Macao report. Tamamoto, a representative of Ideal Company, told the symposium “I visited Macao and I saw girls in prostitution. Because of them, HIV infections have rsien a lot in Macao.” Tamamoto said she’s convinced “if casinos are introduced in Okinawa, the number of HIV patients here are going to increase.”

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