In July a new organization called the Resourceful Center of Problem Gambling (RCPG) opened in Tokyo with the intention of strengthening the nation’s infrastructure to deal with this social scourge.
In an exclusive interview with Asia Gaming Brief, the RCPG’s leaders explained that to date there has been no other example in Japan of an organization attempting to comprehensively grapple with problem gambling—an issue which has largely been ignored by policymakers in the past.
The central figure is Representative Director Naoyuki Nishimura, himself a medical doctor, who had previously set up a telephone counseling hotline in Okinawa called the Recovery Support Network, focusing on pachinko and pachislot addiction.
Nishimura explains, “Now there is the movement toward the establishment of an IR law, and it is important to step up our efforts to deal with problem gambling comprehensively. So we set up this new organization in Tokyo.”
Nishimura notes that Japan has very few specialists who know how to treat gambling addiction, and offering training to counselors and others is one of the roles the RCPG hopes to play going forward. He envisions the RCPG as both a thinktank as well as a practitioner, emphasizing the importance of “evidence-based” approaches as opposed to emotional arguments.
The RCPG is funded by private individuals who believe it can begin to address an important but neglected problem in Japanese society. They don’t have deep pocketbooks, but they hope that more donations will roll in as awareness of their activities expands.
Nishimura says that his ultimate goal is to bring Japan’s gambling addiction treatment up to the global standard, and he welcomes interaction with foreign experts who can bring their knowledge and experiences to the Japanese setting.
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