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
Despite Public Anger, Cancellation, Postponement Not an Option, Says Expo Head
The ongoing debacle that is Osaka’s 2025 Expo preparations took another turn this week. The head of the Expo’s organizing committee sought to clarify, despite online rumors, that the option to cancel the event is not under consideration. He also shot down the option of the event being postponed. He remarked “I think public anger would only increase if we cancelled things now, this far into development. Our partners in other countries wouldn’t like that either.”
Speaking with the Japanese daily newspaper The Asahi Shimbun this week, Expo Secretary-General Hiroyuki Ishige, said delay or cancellation was “absolutely not an option”.
He acknowledged that delays, spiraling construction costs, and the withdrawal of several countries were “challenges we need to face”. He also accepted that these various setbacks had impacted public perceptions of the Expo.
However, he also declined to accept responsibility for the ongoing crisis in public confidence. He said: “I don’t think it’s my fault that there have been challenges. All big events face challenges. Many countries have dedicated a lot of time and money to this event. It is Japan’s duty to see it through. Backing away isn’t an option.”
He continued “Instead, we need to work on better educating the public about the benefits of the expo. I feel that too much of the press is focused on the cost, the delays and the problems. We need to better explain the benefits of this event, to Osaka and to Japan. The public needs to understand the aims of Expo 2025 better.
Osaka Public Decry “Bottomless Money Pit”
Ishige’s last comment seemed only to further cement public anger on the streets of Osaka. We spoke with some local residents this week. One Ikuno Ward resident had this to say:
“I am so sick of politicians and business leaders trotting out this same excuse every time. No, its not that we don’t understand your plan. We understand it perfectly, we just think it’s a really stupid idea, and a total waste of public money!”
However, another Osaka resident, from Tennoji Ward, was a little more conciliatory in her comments. She said: “It is true that every time I read about the Expo, it’s about another delay, another cost-overrun or yet another country dropping out, or threating to do so.
“The organizers can employ as many PR consultants as they want, but it won’t change. From day one the public hasn’t been behind this, because, a lot of us, myself included just don’t see the point of it.
“Yes, the secretary general is right to say that messaging could have been better. However, ultimately, I think most people would still feel the same regardless.”
Our last commenter, a retired gentleman from Kita Ward had this to say: “Have all the Expos you want. But if you want it, you pay for it!
“I don’t remember there being a public vote on this nonsense. Public money should not be treated as a bottomless pit for politicians and their egos.”
Mr Ishige still has a long way to go, to win over the Osaka public it seems. Assuming the event goes ahead as scheduled, he now has less than 500 days to do so.
Osaka Rugby Legend Calls Time on Career, Thanks Fans and Public
Osaka’s best known rugby star, Shota Horie, announced this week that he will retire at the end of the current season. A veteran of 4 World Cups, Horie has been a permanent fixture as the Brave Blossoms established themselves as one of the World’s top Rugby nations. Interest in the sport has surged in recent years, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Horie and his teammates. The 37 year old will play one more season with his current league club Kumagaya Wild Knights.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s opening round of fixtures, Horie said: “I have enjoyed a great career. “I was able to come this far thanks to the support of many people. So, to the fans, and the Japanese public, I want to say thank you.
“I hope I can help the team have a great season, one last time.”
With a significant number of Japan’s 2023 World Cup squad now in their 30s, Horie may be the first of many to announce he is stepping back. The next World Cup may be almost 4 years away, but the planning has already begun in earnest.
Visitors to Osaka’s Kaiyukan Aquarium welcomed an unexpected guest this past weekend: Santa Claus himself. However, this time, old Saint Nick swapped out his reindeer driven sleigh for flippers and an oxygen tank.
As part of the aquarium’s Christmas celebrations, divers dressed as Santa will dive into the venue’s largest tank every day from now until December 25th.
Kids will also get the chance to play the classic children’s game rock/paper/scissors with Santa, through the tank windows.
The Osaka Kaiyukan’s Santa show takes place every day at 1.15pm.
That’s all for now but be sure to check back again same time next week for another round of this week in Osaka!