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HOME  > Past issues  > 2023 December 20 - 2024 January 9  > Total costs pertaining to Osaka Expo may rise further
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2023 December 20 - 2024 January 9 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Total costs pertaining to Osaka Expo may rise further

December 21, 2023

Akahata editorial

The national government on December 19 made public the overall estimated costs pertaining to the holding of the World Expo 2025 in Osaka City. It calculated the amount of the cost shouldered by the national government for projects which will contribute directly to the Osaka Kansai Expo to be 164.7 billion yen. In addition to this, the government estimates that the cost of infrastructure development around the Expo venue will be 839 billion yen, including the amount shared by the state.

Many people criticize the ballooning construction costs. Some even call for a reconsideration and possible cancellation of the Expo. The release of overall costs was published in response to the remark Prime Minister Kishida Fumio made in the Diet. PM Kishida said. “I will give an overall picture with transparency.” However, there still exist many uncertain points. No guarantee is made to curb an additional increase in costs. Doubts still remain about a further injection from public funds.

Upgrading of infrastructure goes with post-Expo casino resort

The cost for the Osaka Kansai Expo has repeatedly deviated above the projected total cost. In 2018, 125 billion yen was the estimated cost for the construction of the event site. However, it has since swelled to 235 billion yen, up 1.9 times. The national government, the Osaka prefectural and city governments, and the public sector will each bear one-third of the costs. Therefore, the national government will disburse taxpayers’ money of 78.3 billion yen to construct the Expo site. Aside from this, it was revealed in November that the “Japan pavilion” will be built at a cost of 83.7 billion yen from state coffers.

The 164.7 billion yen for projects directly contributing to the Expo includes the construction cost of the venue and the Japan pavilion. An extra 3.8 billion yen for momentum cultivation toward the Expo will be added in total costs at some point in the near future. State spending on the Expo will inevitably increase even more.

The 839 billion yen for the construction of infrastructure and improvement in accessing the venue includes the extension work of an Osaka Metro subway line to the venue on the artificial island of Yumeshima and the construction work of an expressway connecting the downtown with the island. The expenses of these projects substantially ballooned compared to the initial projection.

In the first place, Yumeshima is a highly problematic site. It has a soft ground and its soil is contaminated. These are among the reasons for the mounting costs.

An integrated resort (IR) centering on a casino will be established at the site after the Expo. The infrastructure and access development projects promoted in the name of the Expo are obviously for the sake of casino-centric IR facilities.

All-inclusive infrastructure development costs pertaining to the Expo will total roughly 9.7 trillion yen. Of this, more than 5.9 trillion yen is earmarked for wide-area transportation infrastructural development such as road construction projects in the Chugoku and Shikoku regions.

The government, while stressing the need for these Chugoku-Shikoku infrastructure development projects, fails to give a convincing account of the relationship between those projects and the Osaka Expo. This not only makes the overall Expo costs opaque but also creates a risk of spreading large development projects that take advantage of the Expo. The national government claims that it will set up an expert panel to confirm the appropriateness of Expo-related costs. However, there is no guarantee that this panel can perform watchdog functions properly.

Decide on halt to the Expo without delay

In recent opinion polls conducted by media outlets, the percentage of respondents who supported the holding of the Osaka Expo as planned stood at 16.5% (Sankei Shimbun on December 12). A majority of respondents called for a scale-down, cuts in costs, a postponement, or the cancellation of the Expo. The Kishida government and the “Nippon Ishin no Kai” party-led Osaka prefectural and city governments should revise their stance of clinging to the Expo and decide to cancel the event.

If the cancellation is decided by April 2024, the amount of compensation to be paid by the Japanese government to the Bureau International des Expositions will be 35 billion yen. After that, the amount will increase to 83 billion yen. With the Expo cost expected to continue to balloon, the important thing is to decide on the cancellation without delay.
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