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
International Departure Area with New Look Comes to KIX
Kansai International Airport’s new international departure area is now open for business. As the entire airport undergoes major renovations, billed as the biggest since the airport originally opened, the new international terminal will ease congestion for outgoing passengers, whilst the rest of the airport continues the upgrade process. The entire project is currently scheduled to complete by mid to late 2026.
The next major step for Kansai International is the completion of modernized international flight security checkpoints. Representatives said they expect this phase will conclude in early 2025, ahead of the opening of the Osaka International Expo.
The new international departure area now boasts Japan’s largest walk-through duty free shop, as well as a number of aesthetic tune ups. The new look draws inspiration from classical Japanese themes. The merging of the south and north gates into one central hub area also allows greater space and freedom of movement for international travelers.
Daihatsu Freezes Domestic and International Shipments
Unfortunately, not all of Osaka’s international commerce has flowed so smoothly this week. Vehicle maker Daihatsu, headquartered in Osaka, announced this week a suspension of all shipments. This covers both domestic and international vehicle sales. The move comes amidst the growing fallout of allegations of fraudulent safety tests. Both Daihatsu and its parent company Toyota both stand implicated in the scandal. Allegations claim that the motoring giants falsified data during their safety testing processes.
In essence, this means that some models were cleared for international distribution without fulfilling all safety specifications. Daihatsu has, so far admitted falsifying data for 6 different models. However, an independent panel investigating the situation announced this week the discovery of another 174 counts of misconduct. These counts pertain to a total of 25 different vehicle models and dates back as far as 1989.
Thus far, executives at both Daihatsu and Toyota have resisted calls to resign over the scandal.
With a government inspection of Daihatsu’s headquarters scheduled for later this month, the worst may be yet to come.
Expo Faces Government Panel, Costs Rise Again
The minister overseeing Osaka’s 2025 International Expo, Hanako Jimi, announced the setup of a government panel this week. The role of the panel will be to determine whether or not costs associated with the Osaka International Expo are appropriate. The announcement comes at a time of growing public anger at the seemingly endlessly spiraling costs of the event. Organizers have also struggled to articulate just what the long term benefits of the event will be to Osaka and the surrounding areas.
According to Jimi, the panel hopes to offer the public a “full picture of the costs, including those for operating the Japan Association for the 2025 World Exposition, as well as the expenses borne by local governments and private businesses.” Local taxpayers remain unconvinced. The expo kicks off in April 2025, assuming all present deadlines are met. Given the unrelenting problems the international expo has faced thus far, this is by no means guaranteed.
Automated trains have been on the horizon for a while now. However, Osaka’s Nankai Railway Company took a big step forward in the field this week. A driverless train completed a test run from Wakayama-Shi Station to Wakayamako Station, approximately 2.8 km, on December 18th. Nankai executives declared the test a complete success. Further development will now continue apace. Assuming that no major obstacles emerge over the next phase of development, the system will be ready for full deployment within the next year or two.
In related news, JR Kyushu also announced plans to automate some sections of their own lines, from March next year. However, the Nankai project would be the first to fully automate an entire line, if all goes according to plan.
That’s all for now but be sure to check back again same time next week for another round of this week in Osaka!