Osaka celebrates winning bid to host Expo 2025, despite reservations

People in Osaka were celebrating Saturday after the news that the western Japanese city has been picked to host the World Exposition in 2025, though some noted that such expos may not draw as many foreign visitors as previously.
Among people celebrating the decision, which saw Osaka beat Ekaterinburg in Russia and the Azerbaijani capital Baku in voting by the expo's governing body in Paris on Friday, are some who were involved in the World Expo the last time it was held in Osaka in 1970.
"This time, I'll take my time to enjoy the atmosphere," said Kazuhiro Miyahira, 74, who was in charge of the opening and closing ceremonies of the previous expo.
Miyahira recalled that he was kept so busy during the event that he was only able to go to see the moon rock along with other visitors pouring into the American Pavilion.
Some feel the Japanese public may not be as enthusiastic as before about hosting an expo, but Miyahira dismissed such concerns. "It's not so different from last time. People changed their attitude about a year before the opening," he said. "They will warm up gradually."
But Koichi Maeda, who was in charge of overseas publicity for the 1970 expo, said it may be more difficult to stage an expo nowadays.
"It will be difficult because the time is different from 1970 when foreign cultures still looked fresh (to visitors)," the 88-year-old Maeda said. But he added, "I hope they can manage it by figuring out a good way to stage the exhibits."
In Minami, one of the busiest downtown districts in Osaka, local people and tourists celebrated the news, with some going wild and shouting, "Osaka, Osaka."
Katsuya Ueyama, 57, who heads an association of local shopkeepers, clenched his fists in triumph and said, "I want visitors to see the appeal of Osaka's entertainment districts and food culture."
A group of university students in the western Japan region were involved in the campaign to host the 2025 World Expo.
"At the beginning, nobody was interested in the World Expo, but we worked together," Yuki Kiyomoto, 24, a student at Osaka University and co-head of the group, said at their office in Kyoto where members were awaiting the result of the vote.
Osaka will also host the Group of 20 summit in June, welcoming leaders and delegations from major economies.
Keiko Matsunaga, an associate professor of Osaka City University, said the big international events could benefit the regional economy.
"Osaka would have a bigger presence in Asia in terms of not only tourism but also business," Matsunaga said.

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