I wish to share a chronological perspective on the political situation in Japan related to Expo 2025.
In 2018, Osaka’s political party, Osaka Ishin no Kai, aimed to attract a casino to Yumeshima and therefore decided to host Expo 2025 there as a prelude to the casino. This plan involved using national funds to develop infrastructures like subways and other facilities for the casino in Yumeshima.
By 2022, the chairman of the Japan Construction Association, Yoichi Miyamoto, pointed out that construction would not be completed in time if things continued as they were. At this point, Osaka Ishin no Kai was fully aware of the issues surrounding the Expo and casino plans.
In April 2023, Osaka Ishin no Kai won a landslide victory in the local elections in Osaka. However, they did not disclose the problems with the Yumeshima plan to voters, instead promoting the success of attracting the Expo. This could be seen as a fraudulent tactic to win the election.
In May 2023, after their electoral victory, Osaka Ishin no Kai sought help from Prime Minister Kishida with the Expo, to which he readily agreed. His reasoning was to ensure that Osaka Ishin no Kai wouldn’t oppose the Liberal Democratic Party during elections or in parliament.
In August 2023, the second Kishida cabinet was formed, and Hanako Jijimi was appointed as the Minister for the Expo. However, she lacked the necessary leadership experience for this role.
Moreover, Prime Minister Kishida’s plan to send a top bureaucrat from the Ministry of Finance to Osaka was not suitable for the actual operation, as finance bureaucrats are accustomed to allocating budgets, not managing operations.
By September 2023, there were reports of blame-shifting between Osaka Ishin no Kai and Prime Minister Kishida. It seems that Kishida might have learned a bit about the issues in Yumeshima.
Prime Minister Kishida’s approval ratings continue to plummet, and his resignation seems only a matter of time.
In conclusion, the political situation in Japan related to Expo 2025 is disappointing. Both the local government of Osaka and the central government of Japan have shown poor management skills and a lack of capability in handling the situation.
As a Japanese citizen, I feel deeply apologetic towards our international guests for this inadequate political reception in Japan. The extent of embarrassment felt over this political failure is beyond words, and I sincerely apologize to all foreign visitors.
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