If Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto has his way, by 2025, as it prepares to host that year’s International Expo, Osaka will have become an international entertainment capital, home to a casino resort, the site of a major electronic car race and a bicycle race that rivals the Tour de France.
At the same time, Osaka will, by then, be home to numerous universities from abroad, as well as large numbers of international schools preparing students for studies at higher education institutes overseas. To help accomplish this, all schools will teach a practical form of English.
This is just part of Hashimoto’s recently announced vision for what the region would look like if the city and prefecture are merged. The ambitious plans include public works projects like new roads and a new subway line, and a campaign to push Tokyo to ensure the new linear shinkansen will stop in Osaka. There are also promises of more hospitals and medical centers to develop Osaka into a major center for medical tourism.
However, the recently announced plan does not propose a schedule for completing either the Osaka merger or the proposed projects. Nor is there any detailed financial information about how it will be paid for. Much of the plan contains public works projects long pushed by the Osaka corporate community and festival-type events designed to appeal to local voters.
The plans for postmerger Osaka are also designed to appeal to influential business supporters of the local Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito, in the hope they will pressure their representatives so the merger proposal, sought by Hashimoto and Osaka Ishin, is approved in the municipal and prefectural assemblies and put to a public referendum, which Hashimoto believes will approve the plan.
Osaka Ishin is the largest party in the municipal and prefectural assemblies, but does not have a majority in either. All other parties, including New Komeito, Osaka Ishin’s nominal coalition partner, remain opposed to the Osaka Ishin-backed merger plan.