Osaka has won the right to host the 2025 World Expo — 55 years after the 1970 Osaka Expo, a landmark event that symbolized Japan's rapid postwar economic development. The decision at last week's meeting of the Bureau International des Expositions in Paris has fueled hopes that the expo — yet another big international event for Japan on the heels of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games — will once again boost the Kansai region's economy, which has been in a relative decline as the nation's population, businesses and other resources concentrate in Tokyo. It would, however, be too much to expect a repeat of the excitement and economic benefits that accompanied the 1970 expo, which was held in an entirely different social and economic background. Organizers should instead grapple with the meaning of holding the 2025 event at a time when the very relevance of international expos is in doubt with the advance in information technology.
The government won a competition with Russia and Azerbaijan to host the 2025 expo, which it plans to hold with the theme "Designing future society for our lives." The expo is expected to showcase advanced technologies, particularly in fields such as life science, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and biotechnology, although the specifics of the exhibits are still up in the air.
Officials anticipate 28 million people will visit the 185-day event from May to November of 2025 and it will provide a roughly ¥2 trillion boost to the economy. The last world expo held in Japan, in Aichi Prefecture in 2005, is said to have attracted 22 million visitors and generated more than ¥1 trillion in economic benefits.