Mr. Tetsuya Azuma
Director for International Exhibitions at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI)
The World Expo organized every 5 years is based on themes designed to raise awareness of and find responses to universal challenges of our time. Japan is one of the three countries bidding to be host country. Mr. Tetsuya Azuma, Director for International Exhibitions at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), sat down with JAPAN and the WORLD to talk about their efforts behind the scenes in presenting Osaka as a viable candidate for the World Expo to be held in 2025.
—METI set up its International Exhibitions Promotion Office to coordinate the invitation campaign for the 2025 World Expo. Could you tell us about your activities so far?
Osaka Prefectural Governor Matsui favored the Expo initiative, and after broad domestic consultations, it received Cabinet approval in April 2017. A letter from the Prime Minister of Japan was then submitted to the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) declaring Japan’s candidacy. The International Exhibitions Promotion Office has been supporting the invitation campaign in collaboration with relevant ministries, regional municipalities, business community, and other stakeholders.
—Why was Osaka selected as the candidate city?
The host is actually Osaka/Kansai. The Osaka/Kansai region’s mix of history and tradition, culture, advanced technology, and business makes it a very unique, vigorous region. More specifically, it has a concentration of organizations and enterprises with advanced technology in the field of life sciences. Governor Matsui’s activities have also done much to energize the region.
—With France’s withdrawal of its hosting bid, how do you view Japan’s chances of winning?
Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, and Yekaterinburg in Russia are also bidding to host the 2025 World Expo. Since both of these cities are strong candidates, we are working hard to make our candidacy appealing in regards to the decision that will be taken in November.
—Please tell us about the content of your invitation activities to date.
After announcing our application for the World Expo 2025, we submitted a nearly 500-page candidacy application statement (bid dossier) to the BIE in September 2017. This statement included everything from an explanation of the theme to venue and financing plans. In addition, we have been taking every opportunity including the General Assemblies of the BIE, to convey the vision Japan wants to share at the World Expo 2025 to the BIE countries.
—I understand that as many as 28 million domestic and international visitors are expected. Are preparations on track?
If Japan’s bid is selected, we will accelerate preparations ahead of 2025. However, we believe our preparations to date have been solid. The venue will be on Yumeshima, an artificial island in Osaka Bay that is owned by Osaka City, so our prospective site is secured. The basic structure of our financing plans is set up, and is based on our previous Expo experience. We also have a declaration of support from the Prime Minister himself, which should be a major plus.
—What is the theme of the Expo?
Japan’s proposed theme for its bid is “Designing Future Society for Our Lives”. While economic growth and technology are advancing, they can also be a source of concerns. In response, we devised the Expo theme based on an ideal of partnering up with the participants to explore the future society.
This theme is also linked to the achievement, by 2030, of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) defined by the United Nations, and we hope to accelerate efforts to reach these goals through the 2025 Expo.
We are also proposing a unique concept called the People’s Living Lab. This will serve as a platform for field testing of the latest technologies in the venue. It will also feature an online platform where people from all over the world will be able to share ideas freely, discuss solutions to global challenges, and exchange information. The aim is to create a space where people can gather and collaborate to create our future society.
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