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Gov't backing Osaka's bid to host World Expo in 2025

The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is preparing to have Osaka stand as a candidate to host the World Expo in 2025, it has been learned.

    The administration judged that having Osaka host the expo would serve as a reflationary measure following the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Officials plan to register the city as a candidate with the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions as early as next spring.

    The Osaka Prefectural Government has been engaged in activities to draw the expo to the city. In contrast with the Olympic Games, where a local body stands as a candidate, the central government plays the central role in bids to host the World Expo. The prefectural government has accordingly approached the central government for support.

    In September 2014, the prefectural government began considering hosting the expo with the aim of revitalizing the economy. Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui, head of the political party Initiatives from Osaka (Nippon Ishin no Kai), repeatedly sought cooperation from Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, to whom he has close ties, for the move to go ahead.

    In August this year, Matsui met in Tokyo with Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko and made a formal request for assistance. One government official divulged, "Suga instructed the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry to give the issue full consideration, and Mr. Seko is positive about it."

    In a question session at a plenary session of the House of Representatives on Sept. 28, Abe stated, "The expo results in an increase in visitors not only to the host area but to our country (as a whole), and provides a spark to vitalize local economies."

    Regarding a basic concept for the expo that the prefectural government will compile as early as this autumn, Abe stated, "We will carefully examine the details and move ahead to give it proper consideration.

    In comments in the Diet in January, Abe had merely stated, "I'd like to determine the feasibility of the plan."

    Abe's latest response came as a reply to Nobuyuki Baba, secretary-general of Initiatives from Osaka. With forces in favor of revising the Constitution having secured a two-thirds majority in both chambers of the Diet following the July House of Councillors election, it appears that Abe hopes to deepen ties with the party from Osaka.

    Paris is also expected to put its name forward as a candidate to host the 2025 World Expo. If Osaka is chosen, Japan can expect to revisit the Olympic-Expo combination that underscored a period of high economic growth with the staging of the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games and Expo '70 in Osaka.

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