Japan’s anticipation to host the Osaka World Expo in 2025 (expo2025.or.jp) is facing a significant setback due to construction delays, casting a shadow over the event’s grand opening. The Expo’s primary objective is to spotlight the accomplishments of nations, with over 150 countries set to participate. Notably, 56 nations, including the United States, China, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, are tasked with designing and constructing their unique exhibition pavilions at their own expense. However, mounting apprehensions arise as rising costs of construction materials and a shortage of labour threaten the participation of several foreign countries, potentially leading to their withdrawal from the Expo.
A Crucial Tourist Attraction and Economic Driver
The overseas pavilions are pivotal attractions expected to draw tourists to the event. The Osaka World Expo, spanning six months, anticipates welcoming approximately 30 million visitors, generating a substantial $15 billion in revenue. However, with construction delays accumulating and expenses escalating, the business community is advocating for the reconsideration of the opening date or even for the Japanese government to shoulder the responsibility of building the pavilions for foreign countries.
Budget Miscalculations and Evolving Costs
The path to the Osaka 2025 World Expo has been marred by a series of budget misjudgments. The Japanese government’s bid to host this multinational spectacle in 2017 has been met with unforeseen challenges, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian incursion into Ukraine. Consequently, both construction and operational expenses, as well as security costs, have surged. The initial projection of construction expenses stood at $898 million, but this figure has ballooned by an additional $420 million. Funding for these costs is shared among the government, Osaka municipal government, and the business sector. As calls intensify for the government to bear the pavilion costs, there is the looming possibility of an increased financial burden on taxpayers.
Race to Secure Permits and Local Contractors
With the grand opening of the Osaka World Expo slated for April 13, 2025, the countdown to completion is gaining urgency. However, as of mid-July, a concerning revelation emerges – not a single country has submitted the essential construction application required to obtain an Osaka building permit within the designated timeframe. South Korea emerged as the pioneer, submitting a preliminary construction plan by the end of the month, followed by five other nations. The prevailing challenge revolves around the struggle to secure local builders and contractors. The Japan Expo Association underscores that the application process alone takes four months, culminating in building permit approval. Fears linger that late permit submissions may prolong the delays faced by these pavilions. The association is fervently seeking the cooperation of the construction industry and has pledged its support in facilitating participating countries’ search for contracting firms.
In the race against time, Osaka’s aspirations to host a groundbreaking global event hinge upon the collective efforts of governments, business leaders, and construction stakeholders to surmount challenges and ensure the timely realization of the Osaka World Expo 2025.