Officials brief politicians on revisions to expo plan

Officials from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry and the Aichi Prefectural Government on Wednesday briefed two political groups on revisions to the bid for the 2005 World Exposition.

A nonpartisan group supporting the Aichi exposition and a group of Liberal Democratic Party legislators were briefed in separate meetings on the plan to reduce the size of the venue and the suspension of plans to construct housing on the site after the expo.

Shoichiro Toyoda, head of the Japan Association for the 2005 World Exposition and honorary chairman and director of Aichi-based Toyota Motor Corp., told both groups: “Venue, transportation and financial plans must be finalized by this summer. We will do our best while listening to environment protection groups and other experts.”

The original plan to build housing on the expo site was scrapped recently after it came under fire from environmental groups and the Paris-based International Bureau of Expositions (BIE).

The groups said the plan would lead to environmental destruction, contradicting the expo’s theme, which encourages coexistence with nature.

The BIE asked Japan to reconsider ways to protect rare animals living on the proposed expo site, part of which is forested, and to consult with environmentalists on uses for the site after the event.

Environmental groups have protested plans to develop Kaisho Forest, but the expo promoters said they will build a “symbol zone” on the southern part of its hillside, in line with the expo’s theme, “Beyond Development: Rediscovering Nature’s Wisdom.”

Expo organizers are required to register plans in principle five years before the event under BIE rules. Following registration, the organizers can formally invite participants to the expo.