Japan to spend 164.7 bil. yen on 2025 Expo amid public skepticism

The Japanese government is estimated to spend a higher-than-expected 164.7 billion yen ($1.16 billion) on the 2025 World Exposition in Osaka, amid public concern about inflated costs for the global event.

In addition to the total, which includes spending on bidding activities, the central government, local authorities and the private sector are projected to pour some 9.7 trillion yen into the development of infrastructure for the event.

With costs becoming larger than initially estimated, the government will set up a panel including third-party experts to examine whether continuing to inject massive amounts of taxpayer money into the project is appropriate.

Of the 9.7 trillion, 839 billion yen will be spent on building infrastructure for the expo in western Japan, slated for April 13 through Oct. 13, 2025, such as the road for accessing the venue in Yumeshima, a man-made island in Osaka Bay.

The expenses also include funds secured to improve roads and rivers associated with the event in and around the area, which is expected to be joined by around 160 countries and regions.

In addition, some 3.4 trillion yen will be allocated to demonstration projects at the event such as "flying cars," the government said.

The expert panel, to be launched by the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, will review costs and operating expenses every three months, the ministry said.

"We would like to regularly and continuously conduct checkups on the expo's cost," said industry minister Ken Saito at a press conference on Dec. 19. "We will review the costs constantly so as not to cause unnecessary burdens on the public."

Public sentiment toward the event remains skeptical, as spending on developing the venue has nearly doubled from the previous estimate to 235 billion yen amid high material costs and labor fees. The total cost will be split equally between the central government, the Osaka prefectural and city governments, and the business community.

About 35 billion yen will be used to construct the grand roof called Ring, a gigantic wooden structure where visitors can take shelter from the elements, with the state minister for the expo calling it the "symbol" of the event.

But opposition lawmakers have said the roof is a waste of public money, with one of them describing it as "the most expensive parasol in the world."

Among the various costs to be shouldered by the state, 78.3 billion yen will be set aside for building facilities at the venue, alongside up to 36 billion yen for building the Japan pavilion, 24 billion yen to support developing countries taking part, and 3.8 billion yen for creating momentum across the country for the event.

In a recent survey by Kyodo News, over 49 percent of the respondents said the expo should be scaled down, while 22.5 percent favored its cancellation and 7.8 percent its postponement.

© Kyodo News