OSAKA – Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui departed for Paris on Tuesday to lobby for Osaka’s bid to host the 2025 World Expo.
Matsui will attend a meeting of the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions, the 170-member state organization that awards World Expos, on Wednesday. Paris is also vying to host the expo the same year along with two other cities — Ekaterinburg, Russia, and Baku, Azerbaijan.
Matsui told reporters Tuesday before departing that he will use the visit as “a chance to meet various member delegates one-on-one and gain their understanding for the Osaka, Kansai 2025 Expo bid.” He said he himself “won’t be making a presentation.”
It will be the second time representatives from Osaka have traveled to France to give a presentation, with the first taking place in June.
In addition, Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura, will join Matsui and then travel to Hamburg, Germany, after failing to secure a meeting with San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee on Monday to protest the city’s erection of a memorial to “comfort women,” a Japanese euphemism for the females who were forced to provide sex for Imperial troops in military brothels before and during the war.
“I was told by San Francisco that Nov. 13 wasn’t good for Mayor Lee, and asked about another day or another way of communicating, so we’re working on another proposal,” Yoshimura said last week.
Yoshimura, who called the statue a form of Japan-bashing, has threatened to end the 60-year Osaka-San Francisco sister city relationship over the matter. Hamburg is also a sister city of Osaka.
The mayor’s handling of the issue has created concern among members in local chapters of the Liberal Democratic Party, Komeito, and the Japanese Communist Party, as well as the Osaka business community, about a possible international backlash that could negatively impact the city and prefecture’s chances for hosting the World Expo, which will be decided next November. There is also concern that the row could affect Osaka’s efforts to host the first-ever Group of 20 summit in Japan, with the prefectural and city governments having submitted a bid Monday for the 2019 gathering.
Osaka is proposing a facility along the waterfront that is over 30 years old, used primarily for trade shows, and has few luxury hotels close by.
“The waterfront site does have a lot of history behind it,” said Matsui. “But if it’s refurbished, it will be sufficient. In cooperation with the central government, we can create a quality venue that won’t lose to Aichi Prefecture.”
Aichi Prefecture also hopes to host the meeting and is constructing a new venue that would be used for that purpose.
The decision on where to host the G-20 meeting is expected to be announced by the central government in January or February.