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USJ scraps plan to build theme park in Okinawa

JIJI

USJ Co., the operating company of Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, said Wednesday that it has dropped a much heralded plan to open a theme park in Okinawa Prefecture, in whose economy the government saw the project playing a key part.

USJ Chief Executive Jean-Louis Bonnier informed Hiroto Izumi, special adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, of his company’s decision to scrap the plan at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference the same day that the USJ decision was “extremely regrettable” but the government cannot interfere with a private firm’s business affairs.

The company told the government that it now intends to concentrate its investment in Osaka, Suga said.

Early last year, USJ unveiled the plan to open in Okinawa its second theme park in Japan. Unlike the Osaka park centered on movie-themed attractions, the Okinawa park was to focus on the subtropical nature of the prefecture.

But the project was placed under review by the new management team sent to USJ by major U.S. media company Comcast Corp., which acquired the Japanese theme park operator last November.

On Wednesday, Bonnier also met with Okinawa Vice Gov. Mitsuo Ageda in Naha to inform him of the decision.

“I’m really disappointed,” Ageda told reporters. Okinawa needs to find various other ways to promote local tourism from now on, he added.