Osaka to Bid for World Expo 2025

Following the cabinet approval passed on April 11th, 2017 that allows for Osaka’s bid in the World Expo 2025, governor Ichiro Matsui held a press conference at Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan on April 14th. The main focus of the press conference was on the World Expo 2025 and in that one hour total time period during the event, about 30 minutes was devoted to his speech on appealing for Osaka to participate in the World Expo. During the speech, he talked about various topics regarding the expo  including the prefecture’s charming qualities, solutions to worldly common issues proposed by Japan, and the future of Osaka prefecture.

In addition to the questions regarding the World Expo, the governor answered questions regarding the Tokyo Assembly election this summer and Moritomo Gakuen. When Michael Penn (Shingetsu News) asked him if there would be a possibility  of forming the coalition with Tomin First Party, Matsui denied the possibility. When Takashi Uesugi (No Border) asked Matsui about Moritomo Gakuen, though he mentioned that it is irrelevant to the World Expo, he answered that Osaka government is carrying out investigations on the issue. 

Osaka will submit a form of their bidding to The Bureau of International des Exposition (BIE) on April 24th, 2017. The final location for the expo will be decided in November this year. At the moment, Paris is a very strong rival in the competition.


Moderator: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. My name is Khaldon Azhari. I am the President of the Club. I have an honor to have you today along with Mr. Ichiro Matsui, the governor of Osaka Prefecture. He is going to talk today about the theme of Osaka ready to host 2025 World Expo in Japan. He told me that is a different type of World Expo. It’s their own idea and it will be kind of promoted today by his explanation about it and also I would like to say that governor Matsui is also a leader of political party in Japan. It’s a well known party, Nippon Ishin. Nippon Ishin no Kai. It has about 27 members in the both houses in the parliament. Today we will hear a lot about political issues along with the Expo explanations and promotions.Without further adieu, please ladies and gentlemen welcome governor Matsui today. Thank you.

Below is the speech by Governor Matsui

Thank you very much. We would like to thank the members of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan for providing us with this wonderful opportunity to speak here. There are three things which I would like to convey to everybody here today. The first thing which I wish to convey is about the charms of Osaka. Osaka is a place where there is plenty of challenging spirit, and so I would like to convey to you the fact that many very interesting and enjoyable things are happening there. The second subject which I would like to talk about is in regard to the  World Expo 2025 in Japan and in regard to the 2025 Expo event, I would like to convey to you my feelings about this subject as well as what we are striving to achieve in expos here in Japan. The third subject which I would like to talk about is in regard to the future of Osaka. First of all I would like to start off by talking about the charms of Osaka. Osaka is located in a region called Kansai in Japan and it is the center of western Japan. Historically speaking Osaka has served as a gateway to Asia and many of the leading ideas and systems western and foreign culture have used Osaka as an entry point. The people of Osaka have long time continued to challenge new things. And corporations in Osaka have created many things which were the first of their kind in the world. For example, cup noodles, instant ramen, and kaiten zushi or conveyor belt sushi restaurants are all originated in Osaka. In the area of monozukuri, or craftsmanship production, Osaka has long tradition. The first compact pocket calculator in the world was created in Osaka in 1964. This kind of utility knife whereby it is possible to bend off the tip of the blade was something that originated in Osaka. Furthermore the automated ticketing vending machines were invented to alleviate the situation of congestion in the stations during the period of high economic growth here in Japan. Furthermore the major home appliance manufacturer Panasonic which has reached its 100th anniversary since the establishment of the company is also the Osaka company. And furthermore the small and medium enterprises of Osaka have technical capabilities which are world class. For example in the shinkansen, a bullet train, they are the hard rock nuts that are provided as well as the ultra high precision valves that are provided to JAXA which all originate from Osaka. Furthermore, there have been efforts made in Osaka to bring new trends into tradition. For example, a symbol of Osaka is the Osaka castle and as you can see here the 3D mapping has been used as a technology to decorate it. And when it comes to a building of large size, the fact that 3D mapping was used on this building was something that created a quite a lot of attention to it. And from overseas many tourists have come to take pictures happily of this. This is a photograph of when a motocross world event was carried out in the grounds of the Osaka castle. We were told by the national government that it was a ridiculous idea to have motorcycles run through the grounds of the Osaka castle, but we have been able to somehow realize this. This provided us with a very good opportunity to have people throughout the world become aware of Osaka castle.


For this motorcycle event, here in Japan, Osaka is the only location whereby such an event was ever held. Over here we see the main street of Osaka, Midosuji and this access is the main artillery for Osaka and its one of the roles that has the most amount of traffic furthermore it is famous for the rows of ginko trees. The Midosuji was set up as a circuit and F1 Ferrari racing car drove through the street and many people were very happy to see this. Furthermore in the area of culture many new efforts were carried out in Osaka. The Osaka canvas project was set up so that the town of Osaka could act as if it were a canvas of art and many different artists participated in this attempt and this very large wooden kokeshi doll is of 30 meters in height and it has a strong sense of presence that is in no way inferior to the high rise buildings around it. This created quite a sensation.

The Osaka canvas project is held in each year in various locations in Osaka. We hope that people here will take the opportunity to cover the event. Osaka is also famous as a place where people spend much of their money on food.

The Japanese cuisine has been registered as a UNESCO intangible cultural asset. And is a culture of cuisine. That has been attracting attention throughout the world. And one of the determining factors of Japanese cuisine, is dashi or soup stock. And this also originated from Osaka. Furthermore another UNESCO intangible asset culture is joruri which is what a pride of Japan and this is also one of the charms of Osaka. These charms have become widely known by people abroad.

And as evidence of this if you at this chart, you can see that in 2011 when I became the governor the number of inbound visitors total 1.58 million whereas in 2016 this was increased by approximately six times to 9.241 million people.

And this year in January, The New York Times selected Osaka as one of the world cities that should be visited during 2017. And I have talked about the charms of Osaka until now, but in order for you to gain a better understanding of its charms, we have prepared a video, so we hope that you will enjoy it.

The video that featured various sight-seeing spots in Osaka was played for one minute. The featured locations were the Umeda Sky Building, Tondabayashi Jinaimachi, Inunakiyama Hot Spring, Kishiwada Fishing Port, Terraced Paddy Fields of Shimoakasaka, and Kitahama Terrace.

At the end of the video that you just saw was the symbol of 1970 Osaka Expo, the tower of the sun. And when I was a child I visited the Expo at that time and I still remember the excitement and vibrancy of that event.

Now I would like to go into the details of the 2025 World Expo in Japan.

As of the 11th of this month, the world expo had the acknowledgement of the cabinet so that this has become officially a national project. There are two reasons why I feel that this world expo is necessary. The first point is that World Expos have tremendous amount of appeal and power to disseminate much information.

 The second point is because I feel that this affords us with an opportunity from Japan to propose solutions to common issues that are facing the world.

What we hope to achieve is not simply the rehash of 1970 Expo event, but rather what we want to propose is a new kind of World Expo.

So we are now undertaking this with a very strong feeling that we definitely would like to realize this world expo in order to promote the growth of Japan.

The theme of the event shall be designing future society for our lives.

What we would like to achieve is to create a place whereby all the participants can get together so that we can propose lives which every individual will be able to shine and we want to realize a society and economy that will allow such an image of future to be realized.

And the location would be the Yume Shima which is located in the bay area. And we hope that taking the opportunity of World Expo Yumeshima will act as a trigger for the growth of the economy in Japan. And what we are anticipating is that the total number of visitors will be 30 million.

There are three major ideas which we will be pursuing for the World Expo. And the first one is zero waiting time.

Robots with AI functions will be carrying out a variety of different types of services such as cleaning or the sales of drinks, food and guiding people. And also taking care of the luggage that visitors have.

For example, the robots will be able to introduce to the visitors pavilions where there is a very sparse participation and also there will be parades by robots offered.

Furthermore drones will be able to transport luggage so that the visitors will be liberated from carrying around gifts and their own luggage by themselves.

And furthermore by having prior reservations made when their time is about to come where the visitor is reserved to attend a certain pavilion, there will be a system to notify the visitors of this so that we are hoping to realize through this. Zero waiting time.

And the next point is World Expo where people can participate from throughout the world. It is going to be very important that dialogue is going to be realized among the participants about the future lifestyles, society, and economic systems.

What we would like to offer is a place whereby people can be able to be in contact with different sense of values so that it will be possible to gain new insights.

And we would like to urge the participants to be able to disseminate their own information so that it will not just be one way communication from the exhibitors.

Furthermore for people who are unable to come to the actual site, we would like to take advantage of virtual reality technologies so that they will be able to experience the expo as if they were at the actual site. Then finally we would like to offer an expo that will improve the health of people.

Taking advantage of the data gained the behavioral patterns as well as the food diet of visitors. We would like to propose lifestyles that are suited for the individual. Furthermore leading edge life science technologies would also be possible to experience there.

What we are striving to achieve is to have people come and be excited and enjoy themselves in the World Expo, so that they will be much more reinvigorated than before they come to the expo.

We feel very encouraged by the fact that Professor Yamanaka, who has received the Nobel Prize for his research on his IPS cells, has offered to support our efforts.

One of the strength of Osaka and the Kansai areas are home is the fact that in regards to life sciences there are many researchers such as Professor Yamanaka as well as many research institutions in this field.

So I feel that taking advantage of this strength, we should make a contribution to the world.

In the developing nations they are facing public hygiene issues furthermore in the future. It is anticipated that in Asia, the aging societies will further accelerate.

And since Japan is the first nation to become such an ultra aging society we hope that from Kansai it will be possible to propose new technologies and services so that we can make a contribution to solving problems.

And in the area of the health related industries, it’s not just a medicine but also in sports in food, in entertainment, in comedy, there is a wider base which we have.

And so by promoting these health related industries, improvement in the health industry we hope that after 2020, Olympics and Paralympics that we will be able to promote the growth of the Japanese economy.

Now throughout the world there is going to be full fledge bidding activities for the world expo that will begin.

From here onwards, it is going to be a crucial moment.

So for the purpose of gaining as much supporters possible from the various nations throughout the world, we would like to have the Osaka government work together with the national government, the economic circles and other local governments of the Kansai area in being united so that we can do our utmost in carrying out in this bidding activities.


Furthermore we would like to build up excitement within Japan for this event.

And already Paris is going to be a very strong rival to our efforts for this event, but we are going to work strongly with a determination to make sure that we can realize the Expo 2025 in Osaka.

Finally I would like to talk about my thoughts in regard to the future of Osaka. I believe that for Japan to continue to grow, we will be in a very vulnerable situation if there is excessive centralization in Tokyo alone.

We hope that Osaka will take advantage of its unique characteristics that are different from that of Tokyo in order to push forward the development of Japan by having two centers in both East and West Japan act as a single core. It’s going to be a crucial moment.

And furthermore in the future what we hope to do is to assert our presence by the creation of a sub capital city of Osaka.

From here onwards as Osaka is headed towards its efforts in realizing the World Expo there is the rugby world cup as well as the subject of IR integrated resorts. And there is going to be a series of global scale projects.

But what we feel is that this year and the next one will be the period when the things are going to be determined.

In the central area of Osaka, Umeda, there are efforts to create a new urban development whereby the greenery is very abundant in a place where innovation can take place consecutively.

What we would like to create is a town that accesses the face of Osaka whereby people throughout the world are encouraged to come.

Furthermore it has been decided that in regards to the linear central Shinkansen Line the opening of Osaka services will be brought forward by maximum of eight years ahead of schedule. And with the establishment of the linear service, this would mean that it would only be one hour between Tokyo and Osaka. That’s creating one of the biggest urban blocks in the world. With these kind of efforts we would like to strive to achieve the sub capital status of Osaka that can push forward the growth of Japan.

And this is my subordinate. It is a lieutenant governor Mozuyan that is in charge of public relations.

This character has as its motif, the bird that symbolizes Osaka.

This character is a friend of Kumamon of Kumamoto prefecture, but in terms of renown, this character is still not yet that well known.

This character is very active in promoting Osaka, so I hope that the participants here will include this in their coverage. Thank you very much for your attention.  

Moderator: Thank you for your presentation. We had the governor of Kumamoto and he brought Kumamon with him. We were hoping that you bring your lieutenant general Mozuyan with you today, but probably the next. We would like to open the floor for questions and answers. Please allow me to ask the first question today. Are there any financial concerns about financing this Expo in Osaka? Would you please enlighten us about this issue? Thank you.

Matsui: Often when there is a talk about Osaka Expo, a question arises as to whether there would be adequate financial resources for the event. But in order to hold the event, it is estimated that investment requires with total one hundred twenty billion yen or one hundred thirty billion yen. And if this is divided up in one hundred thirty each by the national government asks the local government and the private sector then we believe that this amount of 130 billion yen compared to what they would cost for the just the national stadium for the Olympics can fully be born by the collaboration between the national government and local government and private sector. Thank you.

Michael Penn of the Shingetsu News Agency. First a short suggestion. Right now there is a lot of interests in Yumeshima because of your bid for banpaku and as well as IR issue you might consider allowing us to do a press tour with it at some point. My question relates however to politics, my question relates to politics as you know on July the 2nd, there is going to be Tokyo Assemble election here in Metropolitan assembly election, and the current head of the Tomin First no Kai is a man who named Kazusa Noda who is a former member of your party who was a political candidate for several years. And the policies which he has put out seems very similar to the Osaka Restoration association’s policies. My question is do you see the Tomin First no Kai as a sort of a brother organization and and do you see a possibility of federation policy issues in the future. Thank you.

Matsui: Right now in Tokyo, there are expectations towards this Tomin First Party. And in terms of the policies that they are citing, it is true that there are overlap I understand with those Osaka Restoration Association of Osaka Ishin no Kai, but when we look at whether they are truly capable in their organization and their human resources that they have. And when we consider the fact that people in the Tomin First Party currently have people from other parties such as Democratic Party that have transferred to these parties then there are doubts in my mind as to whether there are truly serious in this effort. And in Tokyo therefore, the forthcoming elections we have our … we will be preparing from Nippon Ishin no Kai or the Japan Restoration Association our own candidates.

Matsui: The biggest difference in the policies between the two organizations is that what we are calling for is an early relocation from the Tsukiji market and the Toyosu market and we believe that Toyosu market should be utilized.  

Takashi Uesugi from No Border: Thank you, Khaldon. My name is Takashi Uesugi. I’m glad to see the Governor. Although you have talked about the excitement of the Expo there is one point that has been missing in your presentation which is a factor of Osaka. That is the subject of the Moritomo Gakuen.

Matsui: That’s irrelevant to the expo.

Uesugi: It’s a world famous topic, but all jokes aside. Continuing the question, for bidding for the 2025, there is this negative image because of this matter of Osaka, so therefore it is necessary to try  and clear up the situation. And Mr. Kagoike has been present here at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan and the governor has said that the possibility of criminal prosecution is in and since the governor is close to Prime Minister Abe in cleaning up of this business in regarding of Mr. Kagoike. In order to hold the Osaka Expo then are there any ideas as to having a collaboration with the national government in this area to clear up this matter.

Matsui: First of all, I must mention that the subject of Moritomo Gakuen is totally unlinked with the current matter of the Osaka Expo.

Matsui: And currently in regard to the Moritomo Gakuen and the Osaka Prefectural government is carrying out various types of investigation. And yesterday such an investigation that was carried out. And the investigation is still incomplete. And the interim situation of that investigation is as what you can read in newspapers today. And for the prefectural government we would like to investigate as much as possible this matter and to elucidate the situation as much as possible. Carrying out the actual investigation itself we at the prefectural government do not have the right for the investigation to be carried out. Although it was mentioned about the idea of prosecution, bringing up charges, what we must do on our side is to carry out the administrative side of investigation. And after that what will happen will be determined by the results of administrative activities.

Uesugi: Are there any points raised in regards to the Prime Minister’s office?

Matsui: In regards to the situation with the Prime Minister’s office, there are two issues related to the Moritomo Gakuen. One is regard to its authorization as a private school and  andthe other is in regards to the problem of  transfer to the Moritomo Gakuen. Those are the two problems. In regards to the transfer of the land, this is a national land that was transferred, so therefore, it is the responsibility of the national government to clearly explain about this.

And in regards to its approval as a private school for Moritomo Gakuen Osaka’s responsibility is to carry out the thorough look into this. Already the results of this have been made public.


Matsui: It must be distinguished between the problems that must be looked at by the national government as opposed to those must be looked upon by the Osaka prefectural government, and the matter of the land is that of the national government. So therefore, it is their responsibility to totally elucidate the situation.

Khaldon: Yes. One question please.

 Yuki Oda from Washington Post: When Japan holds international events of this nature what comes up as a subject is the matter of tattoos. In Osaka, previously there has been a very strong attitude in trying to prosecute people and also to take a very tough stance in regards to the aspect of tattoos.So therefore I would like to ask the governor whether what his thoughts are in regards to ban on tattoos or whether it was intention to enforce various rules in regards to tattoos. We would like to ask about the fact that since there is a general acceptance that is seeing more and more in regards to the subject of tattoos. What the sense would be in regards to an international event of this nature? The second point that I would like to ask is that in regards to the issues that has been cited in the elimination and eradication of culture in the event of this nature and I would like to ask for governor’s thoughts in that.

Matsui: First of all, it must be mentioned that in regards to Osaka, irezumi or tattoos are not regulated for the general public. Rather it is felt that tattoos on civil servants in Osaka may seem oppressive to residents, so therefore, there is a ban or there is a regulation against civil servants who have tattoos. So here in Japan, the subject of irezumi or tattoo is not yet widely tolerated in Japanese society, so it is felt in order to avoid the feeling that the civil servants are intimidating citizens it has been decided under the previous governor, Hashimoto that Osaka would regulate the whose on civil servants in Osaka. Overseas the subject of irezumi and tattoo is considered as a form of self-expression dependent on individual value that people

Matsui: We have seen greater acceptance in regards to the fact that there are tattoos are now being more generally accepted and that we hope that it will be understood. We would like that foreign nationals to come to Japan but there are different customs here in Japan. We hope that people will be able to come to Japan and enjoy themselves so therefore, it’s going to be a very important subject as to what our responsibility will be in regard to this matter. In order to achieve total revelation from any kind of regulations of this kind in regards to this subject, it is very important that there is understanding among Japanese people on this matter.

Moderator: One question please.

Melanie Brock, The President of Australian and New Zealand Chamber of Commerce: Hello. I am from a member of Australian and New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan, my question is not regards to Japanese politics or Moritomo Gakuen or in the matter of tattoos. But, rather foreign nationals residing here in Japan. We can be a help in this effort and this may be light in substance compared to other questions I might be a subject of criticism afterwards, but in order for Japan to appeal its charms to people outside of Japan, it is not just Japanese people, but perhaps rules can be played as a foreign nationals residing here in Japan. So therefore one idea could be organization by foreign residents Japan to help the effort in the Expo.

Matsui: I am grateful for the question that was just presented now. Thank you. I hope definitely that there can be a organization established that will be activities to support the effort in 2025 in the holding of Expo in the Osaka by foreign residents here in Japan. The biggest request which I would like to ask of you is that perhaps you can suggest your friends and acquaintances to go on a trip to Osaka to become familiar with the city. Thank you indeed.

Moderator: This will be the last questiont today. Lady. Are you journalist?OK. Please come, because the governor asked to end at 11 sharp.

Ms. Sumie from THE PAGE: I would like to ask about the EXPO in the light of the fact that it’s going to be a very tight schedule on the bidding for the event and you have mentioned in your presentation about the rival such as Paris and I believe that there will be other cities also tried to become a city as you build up the excitement within Japan and as well as throughout the world, I would like to inquire about what specifically you are thinking about doing and furthermore to as you carry out the development for Yumeishima for the 2025 event if in the event if you are not able to have the event 2025, what concept do you have for example in the future try to achieve the event for 2030 or so on.

Matsui: In regard to the subject of the 2025 event, it has been heard by others about the fact that perhaps the preparation is very short, but you could consider this as being a very short period of time to prepare for the event or you could interpret this to mean that we are working with a sense of the speed and when we consider the current era right now and in deciding to prepare for this in two and half years in light of this sense of speed in this era of information communication technology it may be well construed that this is an opportunity period, so I do not it is appropriate to consider we are rushing things too much and there is too little time for doing this, but rather I feel doing this with a sense of speed. In regards to the second question, as to if we are not able to get 2025 event and what is the possibility for targeting 2030. I believe that those who are responsible at that time such as the Osaka prefectural governor or Prime Minister and the Japanese government need to consider it at that time, however, as the prefectural governor of Osaka in my term of office what I would like to concentrate upon is for targeting 2025.

Moderator: I would like to extend to you honorary membership for our club for one year. Thank you.

Matsui: Thank you. Thank you very much.

Moderator: Please remain seated until the governor leaves the room.

Ryusaku Tanaka: Why did you oppose the creation of Hyakujo IInkai?

Matsui: Are you talking about the Osaka Prefectural Assembly?

Matsui: I don’t oppose Hyakujoiinkai. It is not the right time for it yet.

Matsui: Hyakujo Iinkai would not mean anything even if you created it at that time.

Tank: Are you going to support it in the future?

Matsui: Is there a necessity to create Hyakujo Iinkai in Osaka.

Tanaka: Almost everything was put on the table. Have you read the reports?

Matsui: No. I haven’t.  I was surprised to hear that you haven’t read it.They are on the internet. Please take a look at it once.

Tanaka: Do you think you should apologize to Prime Minister Abe?

Matsui: No. I don’t think so.

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