FUKUOKA (Kyodo) U.S. movie studio Paramount Pictures will build a theme park in the town of Hisayama, Fukuoka Prefecture, officials involved in the project said Thursday.

The park, which will be called Paramount Movie Studio Park Japan, or PSJ, will open in 2010, the officials said.

It will occupy 154 hectares, a larger space than that occupied by Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, according to a business plan announced at a news conference in Fukuoka.

The conference was attended by Kazunori Yamasaki, president of Japan Trade Inc., a local planning company, as well as by Michael Bartok, executive vice president of Paramount Parks Inc., operator of theme parks tied to Paramount movies.

PSJ expects to attract 4.7 million visitors in its first year of operations. It hopes this number will increase to 5.4 million in 2020.

In addition to the theme park, PSJ will house an educational facility for imaging technique experts that will be operated in cooperation with the University of California, Los Angeles.

Promoters of the project expect PSJ to generate economic effects worth 224 billion yen annually and to create 17,000 jobs.

But skeptics question whether sufficient funds can be raised for the project, which is expected to cost 140 billion yen, including 99.6 billion yen for the theme park alone.

“We have yet to start raising funds,” Yamasaki said. “We will announce a funding plan in 1 1/2 years.”

Japan Trade plans to set up a joint study panel with large Japanese companies in October to work out specific steps toward implementing the project.

The panel will spend two years analyzing profitability and other details before the planned establishment of a company in 2006 to operate PSJ.

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