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2025 Osaka-Kansai Expo Organizer Requests Waiver on Construction Overtime Cap

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Yumeshima, the man-made island where the Expo will be held, in Osaka City

The organizer of the 2025 Osaka-Kansai Expo has asked the government to waive the overtime cap on construction work for the Expo to cope with the delay in the construction of national pavilions, it has been learned.

The request was made by the Japan Association for the 2025 World Exposition, which reportedly views the step as necessary to speed up construction work.

Under the revised Labor Standards Law, which took effect in 2019, the government introduced a limit on overtime work.

The construction industry is exempt from this limit for five years. Therefore, the restrictions will be implemented in the industry in 2024, a move that has been referred to as the “2024 issue.”

The law caps overtime at no more than 360 hours per year, starting in April, in principle. Even if labor and management reach an agreement regarding working hours, overtime would be capped at 720 hours per year.

There is a provision in the law that exempts some industries from the regulation if there is a temporary need, such as for disaster recovery. However, there is a strong view within the government that construction for the Expo does not fall into that category, and that it will be necessary to amend the law.

Such exemptions could provoke a backlash as they run counter to working time reforms aimed at correcting long working hours.

A government official expressed the government’s intention to carefully examine the issue, saying, “I don’t know if the waivers will happen, but we will have to consider it.”

About 50 participating countries and regions are considering constructing pavilions, known as self-built Type A pavilions. As of Thursday, however, the city of Osaka had yet to receive any necessary permit applications to build the pavilions.

There has been growing concern that construction will not be completed in time for the opening of the Expo, as labor will become even more scarce once the limit on overtime comes into effect.