Each week, here at Osaka.com, we bring you a selection of some of the top stories about Osaka making the local and national news here in Japan. Sometimes it’s serious, sometimes it’s funny, but it’s always direct to you, from Osaka.
Here’s a look at some of the stories hitting the headlines in Osaka this week.
Table of Contents
Expo Faces More Financial Strife
Osaka’s 2025 World Expo continues to face spiraling costs and numerous setbacks.
Disclosures this week revealed the troubled festival will require at least another 83.7 billion yen from Japan’s central government just to ensure current projected costs are met.
This vast sum is in addition to the 78 billion already signed off by the government. These funds will come entirely from the national budget. In other words, tax payers in Japan will foot the bill.
In a quite stunning lack of ability to “read the room”, expo organizers also chose this week to reveal their scaled back plans for a wooden ring structure to encircle the entire expo site.
The structure is entirely temporary, and will be demolished within 6 months of the closure of the expo.
Naturally, citizens in Osaka are not happy.
“Billions wasted for a vanity project that’ll be gone within a year?” asked one irate resident.
Another, who works near the Expo site in Konohana Ward was a little more “conspiratorial” in his thoughts.
“Just where is all this money going?” he asked.
“Sure, the yen is weak now, and living costs are going up, but money doesn’t just disappear. You can’t seriously tell me there isn’t someone, somewhere getting very, very rich off this entire mess.”
Of the newly allocated funds, almost 5% (3.8 billion yen), has been set aside to “build momentum and public support for the expo.”
Judging by the anger around Osaka this week, it seems the organizers will need to maximize every penny of it.
Russia Becomes Latest Expo Drop-Out
In a further, though not entirely unexpected blow to the expo, Russia announced its withdrawal from the event this week. A representative for the Russian government confirmed what many suspected was an inevitable announcement on Wednesday. They cited “lack of efficient communication with the host.”
Russia joins Mexico and Estonia who already confirmed last week they would not take part in the expo.
As we said though, this isn’t really much of a surprise. Sources believed a Russian withdrawal was on the cards for some time. With no end in sight of their invasion of Ukraine, the diplomatic difficulties faced by those trying to promote Russia abroad are immense.
Of course, the decision of government Minister Hanako Jimi to throw proverbial petrol on the already smoldering mess last Friday didn’t help matters either.
Jimi said last week: I would not assume Russia’s participation in the expo if there is no change in the current situation.
She continued: “The invasion of Ukraine directly conflicts with the expo’s main theme: “Designing future society for our lives.”
Most would probably say Jimi makes a fair point. However, coming at a time when Expo 2025 needs all the support it can get, it probably wasn’t the smartest move.
Couple Deny Charges after Child Dies
A couple in Osaka pleaded not guilty to charges of child neglect this week. The charges came after the co-defendant, Mayumi Ono’s, paternal granddaughter Yuha died of heatstroke. Ono and her common-law husband Takanori Momota left Yuha alone at home for 11 hours while they went to the Universal studios theme park with Yuha’s 5 year old brother. The tragedy took place in June 2022, about 3 weeks after Ono stopped taking the 2 year old victim to day care.
Autopsy reports also showed that Yuha had not been fed properly for an extended period of time.
Prosecutors believe that the couple are guilty of prolonged and deliberate child neglect. They also assert that this was a direct contributing factor to Yuha’s death.
Yuha had been relocated to her grandparents home in 2020, shortly after her father was found to have abused her mother.
One of Osaka’s best known baseball stars marked the final stage of his comeback from injury with a bumper new contract this week. Kenta Maeda, a right-handed pitcher originally from Osaka, signed a 2 year deal with the Detroit Tigers this week. The total value of the contact is a staggering 24 million US dollars. The 35 year old underwent major surgery in 2021 following persistent injuries. On his return to action, he led the Minnesota Twins to the American League Central Division Title. His contract with the Tigers marks a remarkable return for a player who looked all but finished only 18 months ago.
That’s all for now but be sure to check back again same time next week for another round of this week in Osaka!