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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 August 21 - 27  > Yokohama mayor may need to know what Marx said about casinos
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2019 August 21 - 27 [SOCIAL ISSUES]
column 

Yokohama mayor may need to know what Marx said about casinos

August 26, 2019

Akahata ‘current’ column

During his stay in Monaco, Karl Marx wrote to his daughter about people in a casino there, “[W]hile someone else can't keep enough for the journey home; others gamble away the whole of large family fortunes”.

The letter, which was written a year before Marx’s death, pointed out, “There can be no question of intelligence or calculation here; no one can count with any probability on being favoured by ‘chance’….”

With a critical eye, Marx observed people indulging in gaming and the city’s economy which relies on money spent by gamblers. In 1859, Marx published “A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy”, which led to the publication of “Das Kapital” in later years. In the same year, Japan changed its long-held national isolation policy and opened five ports across the country for trade.

Yokohama Port is one of the five. In the 160 years since then, the port has served as a gateway to the Tokyo metropolitan area. Recently, Yokohama City Mayor Hayashi Fumiko said that the city will invite a casino operation to Yamashita wharf in the port.

During the Yokohama mayoral election campaign two years ago, the mayor had refrained from supporting casino operations, but she suddenly expressed her intent to go forward with the plan to open a casino at a press conference. Port workers protested against the mayor’s announcement by saying that Yamashita wharf must not be turned into a place for gamblers. Many citizens are saying that near the wharf is a park where people relax and enjoy themselves with their families and that they don’t want a casino in that area.

Supporters of what Marx called “a den of thieves” are overseas casino operators, the business circle in Japan, and the Abe government which is bulldozing through its policy for casino development. Undemocratic decision-making by the mayor or a city or society that increases gambling addiction does not provide a sound foundation for a healthy economy and decent living conditions.

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