Devise Ways to Communicate Appeal, Significance to World

The Osaka-Kansai Expo will be an international festival, coming after the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. It is hoped that thorough preparations will be made to ensure that the event will be an attractive one.

On April 13, two years ahead of the opening of the Expo, a groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled to be held for the main facilities on Yumeshima, the man-made island in Osaka City where the Expo will be held, with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in attendance.

The theme of the Expo is “Designing Future Society for Our Lives,” and it will run from April 13 to Oct. 13, 2025. Osaka and the Kansai region have a rich traditional culture and excellent technology from small local factories. Hopefully the Expo will be an opportunity to make the most of these local traditions and technologies and introduce new values to the world.

More than 150 countries and regions have announced they will participate in the Expo, surpassing the 120 countries and regions that participated in the 2005 Aichi Expo. Considering that the promotional activities were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, it can be said that preparations are going smoothly.

Unlike the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, which had to be held with no spectators, the fact that coronavirus infections have subsided worldwide is a tailwind. The Expo is expected to attract 28 million visitors. This may also lead to a further increase in the number of visitors to Japan.

However, it is concerning that bids for major facilities for the Expo have fallen through one after another, against a backdrop of soaring costs for materials and labor.

The costs of constructing the venue are supposed to be shared by the central government, the Osaka prefectural and municipal governments and business circles. As long as taxpayers’ money is being spent, casual expansion of the costs is not acceptable. Efforts need to be made to simplify the design to the extent that it does not detract from the attractiveness of the facilities, among other steps.

Flying cars, a next-generation means of transportation, are intended to be used to carry visitors. Vehicles that take off and land vertically using multiple propellers are being developed in Japan and abroad.

If the flying vehicles go into operation, they will attract attention as the centerpiece of the Expo. However, accidents are completely unacceptable when transporting visitors to and from the Expo. Safety must be carefully assessed.

At present, it is hard to say that awareness of the Expo or expectations for the event have increased. This may be because it is unclear what kind of experiences visitors can expect when they visit.

It is necessary to widely convey the appeal and significance of the Expo in preparation for the sales of advance tickets that will begin within the year. It is essential that efforts be made to build momentum for the event.

One of the concerns is that Osaka Prefecture and Osaka City are planning to invite an integrated resort facility, including a casino, to open on a site adjacent to the Expo venue, with the aim of opening in 2029.

Concerns cannot be dispelled that a casino will see a rise in gambling addicts and reduce public safety. If the Expo has an image of being “an exposition for a casino,” it will be difficult to obtain public sympathy for the event. The appropriateness of inviting a casino there should be carefully considered.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 13, 2023)