National

Osaka officials kick off preparations for 2025 World Expo

by Eric Johnston

Staff Writer

Within weeks of being awarded the event, Osaka leaders on Tuesday kicked off preparations for the 2025 World Expo.

A formal prefectural headquarters to plan and prepare for the event was opened the same day by Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui. The office will coordinate with local police and other local government agencies. It will also work with the Osaka business community to establish a separate public-private group by early next year that will be responsible for raising private funds to help offset Expo-related construction costs, which are expected to top ¥125 billion.

Private firms from not only the Kansai region but also in Tokyo and elsewhere will be expected to contribute ¥40 billion. The economic benefits of the six-month-long event are expected to be about ¥2 trillion nationwide, the prefecture says.

“We aim to hold an Expo that will go beyond the legacy of the 1970 Expo and surprise the world,” Matsui said Tuesday during the ceremony to launch the new headquarters.

Osaka’s 1970 World Expo was one of the most successful ever held, drawing about 64 million people over a six-month period. The theme of the 2025 Osaka Expo — which will take place on Yumeshima, a man-made island in Osaka Bay, between May and November 2025 — is “Designing Future Society for Our Lives.” Osaka Prefecture expects the event to draw about 28 million visitors, including 3 million from abroad.

Each participating country will design its pavilion based around the main theme, and Osaka Prefecture has indicated that it expects futuristic technologies in the fields of medicine and life sciences, especially for aging societies, to be incorporated into many pavilions.

Matsui has also promised that people will not actually have to physically come to Osaka to visit the Expo.

“We want to afford visitors a virtual reality experience with the Expo as well, where they can see the exhibits through the internet,” he said.

The official name of the 2025 Expo is the Osaka-Kansai Japan Expo, reflecting the participation of surrounding cities like Kyoto and Kobe. Discussions are underway to have “satellite” Expo areas in both cities, though their size and location has yet to be determined.

Over the next 18 months the Osaka Expo headquarters, in coordination with Kansai area governments and businesses and the central government in Tokyo, will draw up a detailed plan of how the Expo will be run.

That will be submitted to the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), the intergovernmental organization in charge of overseeing and regulating World Expos, in 2020.

The BIE could then recommend alterations or additions to the 2020 plan, which could affect the cost of the event — creating questions about who will be responsible for covering any additional expenses.