Osaka-Kansai Expo Drives Up Wages to Nearly ¥2,000 per Hour; Squeezes Local Businesses Amid Staffing Crunch

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Details of staff recruitment related to the Osaka-Kansai Expo are posted on a job website. Offers with hourly wages close to ¥2,000 are notably prominent.

Recruitment for workers for the 2025 Osaka-Kansai Expo, both inside and outside the facilities, has started this spring. Job listings are offering wages that are 60% to 70% higher than the average wage for part-time and temporary jobs in the Kansai area, signaling the arrival of an era of ¥2,000 hourly wages.

The inconvenience of commuting to Yumeshima, the reclaimed island where the venue is located, is believed to be contributing to higher wages. However, businesses surrounding the venue are expressing concern, saying that such wages could make it even harder for them to secure workers.

Recruitment intensifies

According to the Japan Association for the 2025 World Exposition, the Expo operator is currently recruiting for two types of positions: about 300 “core crew” members, who will handle customer service at information desks and other jobs, and over 300 “support crew” members, who will guide visitors and engage in other duties. Both positions offer an hourly wage of ¥1,850. Core crew members are generally expected to work five days a week, while support crew members have the option to work as little as once a week.

Recruitment for jobs related to the Expo has ramped up this spring, a year before opening. Plans are underway to hire staff for both country and company pavilions as well, with the total workforce expected to reach several thousand people.

The Japan Pavilion presented by the Japanese government is recruiting attendants for an hourly wage of ¥1,950. Osaka Metro Group began accepting applications in April for drivers of electric vehicle (EV) buses used as shuttle services to the venue. For temporary and contractual employees of any position, an hourly wage of ¥2,000 is being offered.

60% to 70% higher wages

According to Recruit Co., the average hourly wage for part-time jobs in the Kansai area was ¥1,144 in March, and ¥1,231 in the Greater Tokyo Area. The job openings related to the Expo that have been advertised so far are noticeably 60% to 70% higher than these wages, highlighting the favorable wages being offered.

The Japan Association for the 2025 World Exposition said that recruitment conditions have been “decided by the companies that are commissioned to recruit workers” for the Expo. However, a person related to the event said, “Commuting to the Expo venue is inconvenient compared to the Osaka central area. Wages need to be higher to attract workers.”

The favorable conditions for drivers are also believed to be influenced by the so-called 2024 problem, which involves stricter legal regulations on working hours for drivers starting from April.

Possibility of further boost in wages

These job openings could intensify recruitment competition among local businesses. The operator of Universal Studios Japan (USJ), located near the Expo site in Osaka City, raised the hourly wage for part-timers by ¥50 in April, bringing it to between ¥1,210 and ¥1,540. The company claims this increase is not a response to Expo-related job openings.

“It’s only natural to reward the personnel who support our successful business with better wages,” said a company employee in charge.

There are also voices of confusion concerning the high wages. “Every [company] is struggling with worker shortages. Competing with [the Expo’s wage levels] isn’t easy,” said a representative from a private company recruiting workers near the Expo site. “They [high wages for Expo workers] are effectively squeezing out private businesses.”

An employee of the staffing agency Persol Tempstaff Co. said, “In the Kansai area, there is an increasing shortage of customer service and retail workers in hotels and department stores. The trend toward higher hourly wages is expected to become even more noticeable from this fall.”