A planning committee for the 2025 World Expo in Osaka held its first meeting Friday afternoon, with members emphasizing that the event should be a collaborative effort involving the broader Kansai region and an occasion to showcase Japan’s cutting-edge technologies.

Many committee members — composed of government officials, executives from private firms and academics — criticized the nation’s Tokyo-based centralization and touted the expo as an way to break the trend. They stressed that not just Osaka but also neighboring prefectures in western Japan should play active roles in jointly hosting the event.

“As a symbol of cooperation within the Kansai region, I hope regions that wish to do so would be … the expo’s satellite locations,” said Hyogo Gov. Toshizo Ido, who represents a coalition of neighboring prefectures, during the meeting at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in Tokyo.

The 2025 Osaka-Kansai Japan Expo, taking place between May 3 and Nov. 3 on an artificial island called Yumeshima in Osaka Bay, will focus on advanced technologies as well as health and wellness initiatives.

Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura, also a committee member, said the expo should be a place to offer a look at the future of humanity.

“I think it’s important to present something that will make us ponder ‘what is life?’ Perhaps a heart and a brain made of iPS cells,” Yoshimura said, referring to induced pluripotent stem cells capable of turning into any kind of tissue in the body.

He also called for deregulation to spark innovation and encourage experimentation in fields like artificial intelligence and autonomous driving.

Hiroko Akiyama, a project professor at the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Gerontology, said Japan, where the average life expectancy is over 80 years old, is “a front-runner as a society of longevity” and is in the position to disseminate information about longevity and wellness through the expo.

The METI committee will function as a launch pad to actualize the expo’s wider theme, which focuses on designing a future society. A separate working group will conduct hearings including expert testimony and then report back to the committee by summer. At that point, the committee will form a blueprint for the expo using the gathered ideas.

Japan must submit the blueprint to the Bureau International des Expositions, the organization overseeing the expo, by May next year and receive approval to officially move forward.

“We, as a whole country and with a sense of expediency, will continue to ensure that preparations for hosting the expo are flawless,” said Yoshihiko Isozaki, state minister of industry.

Osaka beat Russia and Azerbaijan with its bid to host the expo in November. The city previously held the event in 1970 with 64 million attendees.

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