High Cost Toilets Trouble Expo: This Week in Osaka February 16th to 23rd 2023

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.

High Priced Toilets Latest Expo Fiasco

When completed, the expo site will house some of the world’s most expensive toilets.

Another week and another high cost scandal comes to the Osaka Expo 2025. This time, its cost of on-site toilets that’s got both politicians and the public riled up. Speaking to the press on February 20th, minister in charge of the Expo, Hanako Jimi, announced that 2 public restrooms would be designed by local architects. However, their extremely high cost has raised concerns. Each of the restrooms will cost a whopping 200 million yen.

Undeterred, Jimi refuted allegations that the cost was too high. She assured the public on Tuesday that the contract was awarded after a “fair and competitive bidding process”.

She also added: “I don’t believe the cost is that high.”


Jimi also explained that the number of toilet stalls in these restrooms is more than you will find in a typical public convenience. She said: “Considering the scale of the project, I don’t think the cost is too high.”

The use of the bathrooms as a showcase for local architects was also in the spotlight. Jimi elaborated further: “There is an artistic and aesthetic aspect to this. So we need to take that into account too, when we decide if the price is high or not.”

Public Bemused by High Costs

Japanese toilets used to be much simpler, and cheaper.

Unsurprisingly, Osaka’s public were less than impressed with this latest example of Expo excess. “Who in their right mind spends 200 million yen on a toilet? Is it made of solid gold or something?” asked one beleaguered resident.

Another was even blunter when discussing the high cost. “I’ll be honest, when I’m going to the bathroom to take care of business, the nature of the décor or the color of the wallpaper is about the furthest thing from my mind.

“It honestly feels like they (the organizers) are just looking for excuses to waste as much money as possible at this point.”

Despite the outcry, there seems little prospect of the high cost of these bathrooms being reigned in. Indeed, with about 40 public bathrooms in total planned for the event, this may just be the beginning of the high cost convenience controversy.

Drug Case Highlights High Cost of Marijuana Use

Dried marijuana, similar to that found on the Osaka students.

Two Osaka high school students face a difficult future this week, after their school announced the results of an investigation into drug use. The two second year high school boys were caught smoking marijuana during a school trip to Hokkaido last year.

The Osaka Prefectural Board of Education told reporters this week that the two boys admitted bringing dried marijuana resin with them on the trip. Investigations concluded that no other students had partaken in drug use during the trip. However, this is not the end of the matter, and the board of education passed their findings onto Hokkaido police. At the time of writing, the police have yet to decide whether or not to press charges.

Japan takes an exceptionally grim view of any kind of illicit drug use. Despite being legal in several US states, and many countries around the world, marijuana remains illegal in Japan. Even medical research with the drug is highly restricted. To many Japanese, marijuana is considered as dangerous as the likes of cocaine and amphetamines. Of course, research refutes this, but there is, as is often the case, a wide gap between the scientific truth and the public’s perception of that truth.

In any case, these two students now face an uncertain future, because they got high.

And Finally….

Tanimachi 9 Chome Station, site of the latest in a long line of threats.

We end today’s news on a somewhat bizarre note. It seems that a year-long mystery plaguing Osaka’s train stations has finally been solved.

Police arrested a 26 year old in Osaka this week. He stands accused of forcible obstruction of business. The charges pertain to a series of bomb threats made against numerous train stations in Osaka. From spring las year until last month, a total of 10 such threats were made across Osaka. The latest, on January 10th this year, saw the suspect place a written note on a toilet wall in Tanimach-9-Chome Station. It said simply: “I planted a bomb, many people will die”. Police later found 6 bottles of a suspicious liquid in the same toilet. However, tests showed it to be harmless.

The suspect, Yuya Kuwagaki, gave a strange response when asked why he made these fake bomb threats.

“I did it to relieve stress”, he said.

Perhaps he should have just taken a vacation, or maybe played some video games like the rest of us. In any case, he remains in custody with a prison sentence a distinct possibility when he goes to trial in the near future.

That’s all for now but be sure to check back again same time next week for another round of this week in Osaka!


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