National / Politics

Citing G20 security issues, Osaka shuts down over 80% of private lodging operations

by Eric Johnston

Staff Writer

Between June and September, over 80 percent of Osaka minpaku private lodgings have been ordered closed by the city, Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura said earlier this month.

“A task force consisting of 68 people, including retired police officers, investigated over 2,000 minpaku operations, and over 1,800 were ordered shut down. The remainder are moving toward becoming legal operations, and we’ll continue to strengthen efforts to crack down on illegal minpaku,” Yoshimura announced earlier this month.

The task force was formed as concerns in Osaka are growing over how the city will handle security for next year’s Group of 20 meeting for advanced and developing economies. More than 20 world leaders will meet on June 28-29 at Intex Osaka, a facility in the Osaka waterfront area.

But as the majority of delegations are expected to stay at luxury hotels in the Umeda, Honmachi, Shinsaibashi and the Osaka Castle areas, Yoshimura and city officials are increasingly worried about ensuring security in the center of the city with minimal disruption to residents and tourists. The crackdown on illegal private lodgings, Yoshimura says, is one of the efforts the city is taking now to ensure the G20 summit, which has never been held in Japan, goes smoothly.

The city of Osaka and the prefecture are still working out plans for other G20 related security measures, including closing off roads downtown immediately prior to and during the event. Security is expected to be especially tight in the Umeda area, the main station for trains heading to Kyoto, Nara and Kobe, as well as to Shin-Osaka Station and the shinkansen. Local businesses near major hotels have expressed concern that they may be forced to “voluntarily” shut down during the event to prevent security hassles.

About 30,000 people are expected in Osaka for the G20. With the major hotels all fully booked with visiting delegations, overseas visitors in particular may find private lodgings are the only option if they wish to stay in central Osaka at the end of June.