OSAKA — Universal Studios Japan, the troubled Hollywood theme park in Osaka, will be open to hosting weddings starting this spring, according to Shin Sasaki, president of USJ Co.

Sasaki said USJ will be promoting weddings at the park, which has seen visitor numbers drop following revelations of mismanagement, by offering couples “the time of their lives.”

Ceremonies will be staged against the backdrop of park facilities such as the Lagoon area. Sasaki said a parade of popular USJ characters will be an added feature to boost the festive mood.

Osaka hotels will take part in the project, he added.

Regarding declining numbers of park visitors, Sasaki said USJ was at best able to draw 8 million people in the 2002 business year, down from its initial target of 9 million per year.

Last year, revelations about sales of expired food at the park, an industrial water main being connected to a drinking fountain and the storage of excess amounts of fireworks explosives damaged the operator’s image. In the April-December period, the park saw visitor numbers drop by 32 percent from a year earlier. But Sasaki said he is still hoping for 9 million visitors in the 2003 business year.

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