The World Expo is a deeply-rooted tradition that dates to 1851, when the very first gathering, known as the Great Exhibition, was held in London. The initial idea was very well-received, gaining popularity and traction as it was replicated throughout the world, where it eventually also became known as International Registered Exhibitions.
Historically, every World Expo has been elaborately organized around and founded upon a particular theme that aims to better society, in general, and raise the bar of humanity’s knowledge. As a global gathering of nations, each exposition pivots on issues that affect humankind: among these, human and social aspirations; as well as scientific, technological, economic, and social progress. All these nuances came about with the creation of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) in 1928. As the main governing body of expositions, the BIE is at the helm of overseeing and managing these multinational mega-events.
The World Expo is a deeply-rooted tradition that dates to 1851, when the very first gathering, known as the Great Exhibition, was held in London.
Held at five-year intervals, the World Expo typically runs for six months and attracts tourists in the tens of millions. People come from all over the world to experience the immersive exhibits set up in each pavilion and national display, to glean knowledge, and to engage in a roster of exciting forums and activities. These expositions serve not only as platforms of learning and progress, but also as avenues of connection between countries and their leaders, as well as their citizens.
The upcoming World Expo is slated to open on April 13, 2025 in Osaka, on the reclaimed island of Yumeshima in Osaka Bay, in Japan’s Kansai region. It will run up until October 13, 2025. Billeted as Expo 2025, Osaka, Kansai, Japan, the upcoming world exposition will bear the theme “Designing Future Society for Our Lives” and will feature eight main pavilions or Signature Pavilions. Each pavilion will be a cutting-edge, state-of-the-art showcase of a future society, with a focus on the importance of life. Currently, 150 countries and territories, as well as 25 international organizations, are slated to participate. This expo will be the sixth official World Expo held in Japan and the second for Osaka Prefecture, which played host to Expo ’70 in Suita.
Takuya Yoshiyasu, Global Public Relations & Promotions Division, Japan Association for the 2025 World Exposition, spoke to Bridges about some exciting aspects of the upcoming event.
What are some of the key attractions and pavilions that visitors can expect to see at the Expo 2025?
Numerous types of content, pavilions, and events are planned for Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, Japan that will be exciting for everyone. While many of these have yet to be revealed, we would like to introduce the “Future Society Showcase Project” and the “Signature Pavilions” as examples. This is a general term to mention a group of projects that provide experiences to a wide range of participants and visitors from Japan and abroad. These pavilions will utilize technologies and services that support the theme of the Expo, “Designing Future Society for Our Lives”, for the development, operation, exhibition, and events of the Expo site. The thrust is for it to be a “People’s Living Lab”, in the form of “demonstration” that gives a sense of the future after 2025 and “implementation” that is suitable for the Expo.
The following are some examples of what to expect at these Signature Pavilions:
How can the Expo 2025 contribute to strengthening Japan’s soft power and global influence?
In 2025, countries from all over the world will gather at the Expo site. No other event will bring together as many countries as the Expo. After the Tokyo Olympics, Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, Japan will be the next global event. Unfortunately, the Olympics were held without an audience, but the Expo will attract a much larger number of people from all over the world than the Olympics. Expo 2020 Dubai was visited by about 3,000 VIPs, and Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai will be visited by no fewer than that number of VIPs, as well as throngs of people from all over the world. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate Japan’s soft power and a chance for the Japanese people to become great communicators.
What are some inspirations and lessons learned from Expo 70 that can be applied to Expo 2025?
Fifty years ago, at Expo 1970 Osaka, the Japanese people of that time came into contact with countries around the world and had a great opportunity to expand their perspectives; to experience the showcase of other countries. Actually, it was the first time for ordinary Japanese people to actually meet foreigners. Expo 1970 was about “seeing, learning, and studying” the world, while Expo 2025 aims to realize a world of “dialogue and exchange” in addition to the “seeing, learning, and studying” of the past. This is exactly the “innovation” we would like to pursue in this Expo. This is really a social innovation. Otherwise, how could it be possible for ordinary people to engage in dialogue or exchange with foreigners without the help of technology? That will be possible through simultaneous interpretation systems, to be developed for the coming Expo. AAMs are also promising candidates in this respect. Expos have always showcased a future that people have not seen before. Please look forward to various innovations at the Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, Japan. By bringing all the countries together, we aim to create an innovative venue where we can all work together to help solve the world’s social issues.
How can local businesses and entrepreneurs benefit from the Expo 2025, and what are some of the opportunities for collaboration and networking with the international community?
Japanese businesses are involved in the Expo in a variety of ways. The Expo is an excellent opportunity for local businesses and entrepreneurs to promote their technology. The Future Society Showcase project mentioned earlier is one such initiative. Another example is the pavilions for private sectors. The exhibitors of the pavilions for the private sectors will devise various measures in line with the theme of the Expo, “Designing Future Society for Our Lives,” and will produce and direct exhibitions where their unique individuality is embodied. Visitors can experience future society, as they immerse themselves in pavilions that provide a deep experience to create a lasting impression and empathy. The Association will continuously make efforts to enhance the charm of the Expo, at both the real and virtual venues, through various co-creations with companies and organizations, such as exhibitors of the pavilions for private sectors.
In addition, we will conduct “Theme Weeks” during the period of the Expo, for collaborating and networking with the international community. At the Expo 2020 Dubai, which closed in March last year, a program called “Theme Weeks” was conducted. This was an effort to contribute to solving global issues through dialogue and business exchange. At previous Expos, the pavilions and exhibits for participating countries and the private sector had always attracted the most attention. But it is also a fact that it is difficult to solve global-scale issues with buildings and exhibits, alone. This is why a new program incorporating interactive dialogue was instituted. Specifically, symposiums, seminars, and workshops — like those held at the Davos Forum.
The Expo is an excellent opportunity for local businesses and entrepreneurs to promote their technology. The Future Society Showcase project mentioned earlier is one such initiative.
At Expo 2020 Dubai, bi-weekly meetings were held on themes such as water issues, space, natural disasters, gender, and the like. Such meetings were arranged not only by the organizers but also by participating countries and participating companies. Moreover, the Theme Week of HEALTH & WELLNESS was held to coincide with Arab Health, the existing medical equipment exhibition; and the Theme Week of FOOD, AGRICULTURE & LIVELIHOOD was held to coincide with Gulfood, one of the largest comprehensive food fairs in the Middle East. This approach worked well, with many business people traveling to the Expo for the trade show and vice versa. As a result, business interaction at the Expo was promoted even more.
The Theme Weeks of the Expo 2020 Dubai were very well received, but it was a challenge as well. We officially announced that we would also be implementing Theme Weeks at the Osaka Kansai Expo. Theme Weeks at the Expo will be organized using not only the pavilions and other facilities inside the venue, but also facilities outside the venue. We believe this initiative will promote collaborating and networking with the international community.
What are some of the initiatives that the Japan Association for the 2025 World Exposition in Osaka is implementing to promote environmental sustainability during the event?
We will achieve carbon-neutrality in the venue via the following exhibits and measures regarding decarbonization and circular economy.
- Hydrogen Society
- Hydrogen and ammonia power generation from outside the venue
- Use of Renewable Energy
- Non-fossilization of electricity used in the venue
- Implementation and demonstration of Perovskite Solar power generation systems
- Carbon Recycling
- Production of e-methane through methanation technology using H2 generated by water electrolysis from renewable energy, and CO2 derived from food waste or obtained by Direct Air Capture
- Usage of e-methane for the venue’s hot water supply system and kitchens
- Plastic Reduction
- Introduction of reusable tableware and compostable one-way tableware
- Encouragement of the use of a Personal Water Bottle
- Reduction of plastics in packaging, novelties, handouts, etc.
- Food Loss and Waste Reduction
- Procurement of ingredients according to the number of admission ticket reservations
- Provision of menu items in quantities that can be eaten without leftovers
- Cooperation with food banks
- Fertilization and feed conversion outside the venue