Osaka to Host World Expo in 2025

Osaka World Expo 2025

Osaka has won the bid for the 2025 World Expo over the Russian city of Yekaterinburg and the Azerbaijan capital of Baku, which will see the event make its way back to the Kansai region 55 years after the landmark 1970 Osaka Expo.

With how important the 1970 Expo was to the region, and indeed to the country as a whole, it’s no wonder that both citizens and politicians alike are celebrating. Combined with the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, this was a period where the Japanese economy was beginning to come into its own, and when the country felt sure enough to strut it’s stuff on the world stage – marking the beginning of a period of Japanese hegemony in East Asia.

And given that Tokyo will be hosting the Olympics once more in 2020, it seems almost perfect to let Osaka host the World Expo as well, allowing history to repeat itself. But beyond simple historical consistency, the Japanese government is no doubt hoping that the events will have much of the same economic effects that were felt in the 1970s, as the country faces the gargantuan problems of an aging society, declining birthrate, and stagnating economy. More specifically, the current Liberal Democratic Party administration is hoping that these international events will help boost the tourist economy and therefore reinvigorate the Japanese consumer economy in general.

Coincidentally, one of the key threads of the government’s policy towards the tourist economy also happens to be the incorporation and acceptance of otaku culture through the so-called ‘Cool Japan’ policy, beginning in 2010. Therefore, it’s a strong possibility that popular culture will have a role to play in the World Expo as well, although it will supposedly focus on “advanced technologies” such as biotechnology and artificial intelligence. That’s to say nothing of the Olympics, of course – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appeared in Rio out of a pipe and wearing Mario’s cap in 2016, after all.

Regardless, the World Expo represents an important opportunity for Osaka. Governor Ichiro Matsui remarked that although the 1970 expo was a landmark, there was a shift in economic power back to Tokyo afterward, the effects of which are still being felt in Osaka today. Without a doubt, the local government sees the Expo as an opportunity to build Osaka’s economic clout from anew – which is perhaps why they are choosing to have the event on the newly created, man-made island of Yumeshima.

Source: The Japan Times

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