The Kansai Economic Federation will open an office in Paris to directly lobby representatives who will decide the host of the World Expo 2025.

Masayoshi Matsumoto, the group's chairman, made the announcement Thursday just prior to a New Year's reception attended by Kansai-area Diet members, corporate executives and Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui.

Ekaterinburg, Russia; Baku, Azerbaijan; and Paris are also vying to hold the Expo, which is managed by the 170-member Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions (BIE). Paris is Osaka's strongest rival, with reportedly high levels of support among younger people of different nationalities. The Paris bid committee had gathered online support from over 111,000 people as of Friday.