National

Osaka governor and mayor make last-minute lobbying efforts in Paris to win 2025 World Expo

by Eric Johnston

Staff Writer

Osaka officials capped a last-minute round of personal lobbying efforts in Paris to win the 2025 World Expo, which will be decided Friday.

While convinced that Osaka has the superior technical bid, concerns about the city’s rivals remains strong. In addition, the arrest of Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn in Tokyo earlier this week for alleged financial misconduct had Osaka media wondering Thursday whether that might hurt Osaka’s chances.

Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui and Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura arrived in Paris earlier this week, days before the vote by the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) on who will host of the 2025 World Expo, to meet with BIE delegates. Osaka is bidding for the event for a second time, having hosted the 1970 World Expo. Its rivals are Ekaterinburg, Russia, and Baku, Azerbaijan.

“Gov. Matsui and I broke off into different groups and over a two-day period, we lobbied 20 countries,” Yoshimura tweeted late Thursday Japan time.

The winner will be decided with a majority of votes from BIE’s 170 member states.

Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko also arrived in Paris earlier this week to assist in Osaka’s lobbying efforts.

But with the arrest of Ghosn and the political and media attention in France and internationally it has received, Seko also met with French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Thursday to discuss the situation.

A press release by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in Tokyo following the meeting said the two sides had reaffirmed “the strong support of both the French and Japanese governments to the alliance formed between Renault and Nissan and their shared wish to maintain this winning cooperation.”

The 2025 World Expo is officially known as the Osaka-Kansai Japan Expo, a reflection of the city’s leaders to promote the bid as one with the support of the wider Kansai region, including the neighboring cities of Kyoto, Nara and Kobe.

Under the theme of “Designing Future Society for Our Lives,” the plan is to hold the expo on Yumeshima, a man-made island in Osaka Bay, between May 3 and Nov. 3. Pavilions are expected to showcase advanced technologies in the fields of artificial intelligence and biotechnology that are designed to help meet 2030 United Nations’ sustainable development goals in health and welfare, especially in aging societies.

About 28 million visitors are predicted to attend the event, and new transportation links to Yumeshima will have to be built. Construction costs at Yumeshima have been estimated at ¥125 billion, with the central government, Osaka Prefecture and the city of Osaka, plus the Kansai business community, each expected to pay about ¥40 billion.

But who will pay how much for additional necessary transportation infrastructure projects has yet to be decided.