Asia News: Osaka Wins Casino License; Kitagawa Allegations Detailed; Korea: Woodstock Artists Revealed

Cityscape of Osaka bay
OSAKA SHINES: Osaka Bay will likely be the site of Japan’s first licensed casino, to be built on a landfill. (Photo by Wichianduangsri / Getty Images)


Osaka Wins First Casino License

On April 14, the Japanese government granted the city and prefecture of Osaka the right to host Japan’s first-ever casino resort, which will be built on landfill in Osaka Bay and completed by the end of 2029. At the meeting to announce the license, Japan’s prime minister Fumio Kishida said, “Integrated resorts are a necessary initiative in promoting our country as a tourism-based nation. They will attract a lot of visitors from Japan and abroad.”

The project, which is estimated to cost around $8 billion, is backed by a consortium that includes MGM Resorts International and the Japanese financial firm Orix. Other companies with an interest in the project are Panasonic, Kansai Electic Power Co., the biggest electrical utility in Osaka, and West Japan Railway.

In addition to the casino, the integrated resort will include hotels, shops and a convention center. Backers are hoping to attract 20 million people a year to the IR, 6 million of which will be from overseas. Projected sales should reach $3.8 billion, of which $3.1 billion will be from gambling.

According to the Japan Times, Osaka’s battle to secure a license for a casino, which has taken 13 years, was hard won in the face of public objections and competition from other regions.

Originally, local boosters had wanted the IR to be operating when the city hosts the World Expo in 2025, but that will be impossible.

Japan Times also reports that the main political party in Osaka, Ishin no Kai, has aggressively pushed for the project by trying to stress that gambling will not be the main activity. Casino floor space, for instance, is limited to 3% of total resort floor space. There will also be a 6,000 yen ($44) admission fee, but only for Japan residents, not foreign visitors.

Another concern is the integrity of manmade Yumeshima island, where the resort will be located. Following a geological survey that predicted the ground could liquefy in the event of an earthquake, the city had to spend an additional $584 million to replace the soil.

Alleged Kitagawa Abuse Detailed

The BBC’s recent documentary about alleged sexual misconduct by the late Johnny Kitagawa, one of the most powerful talent managers in Japan, continued to have repercussions in Japan after one of the male idols that used to work for him appeared at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan in Tokyo and explained how he endured sexual abuse during his stint at Johnny and Associates.

Kauan Okamoto, who is Japanese-Brazilian, joined the agency when he was 15 in 2012, and recounted how he was sexually assaulted “at least 15 times” over the next four years.
Though rumors had been circulating for years about Kitagawa’s behavior, the mainstream press avoided the topic. His charges are not only huge concert draws and record sellers, but make up a large portion of broadcast talent essential to media success in Japan.
Kitagawa died in 2019, but his company still thrives, and has continued to downplay the allegations without actually addressing them directly.


Woodstock Initial Artists Named

South Korea’s SCG Entertainment last week announced the first group of artists who will be appearing at the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair 2023 July 28-30 at the Hantangang River Geopark in Pocheon, Korea.

SCG acquired the rights to stage a festival under the iconic Woodstock banner several years ago but was stymied from presenting an event on account of the pandemic. The 2023 weekend will be the first Woodstock Festival ever held outside of the United States.

One of the headliners will be Japan’s veteran hard rock outfit Loudness. The remaining announced acts are Korean and include Boohwal, No Brain, 6band, Kim Do-kyun and Kim Wan-sun. Additional artists will be confirmed in coming weeks.