OSAKA — Osaka city officials on Tuesday declared the drinking fountains at the Universal Studios Japan theme park safe.

The announcement came a day after park officials admitted that business had dropped by 24 percent in late July and August from last year because of a series of management blunders and coverups.

In early July, it was revealed that a water fountain at USJ had dispensed unfiltered water, which led the city to shut down all 32 drinking fountains in the park at the end of July. In August, the fountains were checked and the contaminated one was repaired.

On Tuesday, city health officials conducted checks on the repair work and the water quality before declaring the fountains safe. The city is also examining USJ’s food quality control system, following revelations that the park’s restaurants had used ingredients after their expiry date, and is expected to issue the results of its findings soon.

After a month in which USJ denied a connection between the mishaps and the attendance reports, park officials admitted Tuesday that the problems, which also included excessive use of special-effects explosives, were responsible for weakening its appeal.

Attendance figures for the period between July 20 and Aug. 31, the summer holiday season, fell by 24 percent over 2001, park officials said. About 1.26 million people visited the park during the period this year, down from 1.66 million in 2001.

In early August, USJ officials submitted a series of proposals to restore public trust in the park. These included suggestions for stricter quality control checks on park operations and maintenance, and more disclosure about its operations.

The announcement of the attendance figures Tuesday was the first by USJ, which had been resisting demands to release the data due to competitive concerns.

Many of the proposals were informally suggested in 1997 and 1998 by Americans connected with the USJ project and local Osaka citizens’ groups, following revelations that nearly 700,000 tons of toxic waste had been illegally buried on the USJ site. However, these suggestions were not taken up by the city, which is the largest investor in USJ.

Meanwhile, details about the proposals USJ submitted to the city last month remain vague, and it is uncertain whether they will be implemented in the near future.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.