By Erice Johnston
OSAKA – Osaka won the rights to host the 2025 World Expo, beating out rivals Yekaterinburg in Russia and the Azerbaijan capital of Baku, during voting in Paris on Friday.
Celebrations were held in Paris after the results were announced, and crowds marked the good news early Saturday morning in Osaka.
The vote by the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) returns the event to the city 55 years after the 1970 Osaka Expo, which drew 64 million visitors and is regarded as one of the most successful expos ever held.
The 2025 World Expo is officially known as the Osaka-Kansai Japan Expo, a reflection of the effort 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 expo will be held on Yumeshima, a man-made island in Osaka Bay, between May 3 and Nov. 3.
Pavilions are expected to showcase advanced technologies, particularly in the fields of artificial intelligence and biotechnology, and designed to help meet 2030 United Nations sustainable development goals in health and welfare, especially in aging societies.
At the news conference immediately following Osaka’s victory, Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko said the victory was the result of a nationwide effort, not just a local one.
“The Osaka-Kansai World Expo in 2025 had strong support locally and all over Japan. It will have a huge impact on not only Osaka and Kansai but all of Japan,” Seko said.
A visibly relieved Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui added that the 2025 World Expo was a crucial opportunity for not only the local economy but also a chance for the region to strut its stuff on the world stage.
“The 1970 Osaka Expo was a huge success. But afterward, there was a (social and economic) shift toward Tokyo, and later, the region’s image worsened. In 2025, the Expo will show the world a new Osaka, Kansai and Japan,” he said.
About 28 million visitors are projected 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 how costs for additional transportation infrastructure projects will be handled has yet to be decided.