To the Press
My name is Mani KUDARA. I am writing to you about significant risks with Expo2025, the Osaka-Kansai Expo, on behalf of a residents’ group called the “Osaka Residents’ Association to Stop the Yumeshima Casino.”
I will leave below the text of a letter we sent to the embassies of the countries that have announced their participation in the Expo. I hope you will read it to the end and report these risks to the world. I will also leave some articles relating to the Expo at the very end of this mail. I hope these articles will help with publication.
＜＜the text of our letter to the embassies＞＞
We express our respect for the daily contributions of everyone at the embassy of your country in Japan. We are a citizen group from Osaka Prefecture called the “Osaka Residents’ Association to Stop the Yumeshima Casino,” situated in the prospective venue for the Osaka-Kansai Japan Expo2025. Now, we understand that it may be sudden, and we apologize for any inconvenience. However, upon learning that your country has declared its participation in the Expo2025, we felt compelled to convey our messages and have thus sent this letter. We sincerely hope you will read it in its entirety.
We are calling for the cancellation of theExpo2025. This is not only because it is not in the best interests of the residents living in the hosting country but also because we believe it poses significant risks for the countries planning to participate. The International Exposition Convention defines an” exposition” as “an event primarily aimed at the public education, indicating future prospects that humanity can utilize to meet the needs of civilization.” While the theme of the Expo2025 is touted as “Designing Future Society for Our Lives,” the current situation contradicts this ideology outright. According to a nationwide opinion poll conducted from November 3rd to 5th, 2023, regarding the Expo, the results showed that 68.6% of respondents believe it is “unnecessary,” while 28.3% consider it “necessary,” (November 6th, Monday, Kyodo News). Similar results have been reported in opinion polls conducted by other media outlets. Please believe in the “common sense” of the people living in Japan. There are reasons why so many people are calling for the cancellation as following.
Firstly, in terms of the increased costs and the burden associated with the Expo, there are significant concerns. Initially, the construction cost was estimated at 125 billion yen. However, in 2020, it increased to185 billion yen, and currently, it has almost doubled to 235 billion yen from the initial plan. For residents of the hosting city, Osaka, this translates to a burden of 19,000 yen per person, ranging from babies to the elderly. In addition, a total of 1.07 trillion yen of taxpayers’ money and public funds will be spent, including Expo operational expenses and infrastructure development. To construct heavy structures on soft ground like Yumeshima, foundation work involving pile driving to a depth of 80 meters is necessary. Just as the initial plan for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics ballooned from 700 billion yen to 3 trillion yen, the Osaka Expo seems to be on track to repeat a similar pattern. People living in Japan, particularly the residents of Osaka, do not desire this outcome.
Secondly, the reality is that the bid for the Expo is being utilized to attract the Osaka Yumeshima Integrated Resort (IR) and casino. The Yumeshima district in Osaka, slated to be the Expo venue, has been filled since the 1970s as a waste disposal site for industrial waste in a vast urban area. Originally not intended for commercial use, the land was filled with incineration ash and dredged soil even before environmental protection regulations were adequately established. Currently, the land is found to contain toxic substances such as arsenic, fluoride, PCB, and more. Experts strongly advise against disturbing this land through construction activities. Despite this, the Japanese government, Osaka Prefecture, and Osaka City have been pushing forward with plans to attract the IR and casino, aiming for its opening in the fiscal year 2023. To use this land, new sewage and water infrastructure, as well as transportation infrastructure, need to be developed. However, there is a significant resistance among people living in Japan to attract gambling and casinos, which have been prohibited by criminal law until now. To overcome this resistance, the Japanese government, Osaka Prefecture, and Osaka City have considered using the Expo as a means to develop basic infrastructure. The goal is not just the six-month Expo but the profits for casino capital that will continue business in Japan for the next 65 years. As a result, enormous amounts of taxes have been invested, and environments supporting rare species like birds and aquatic organisms have been destroyed. We oppose the construction of the Yumeshima IR and casino, driven by the belief that “we do not want fellow residents to suffer, such as family breakdowns due to gambling addiction, and it is unacceptable to fund public services with losses from gambling (people’s misfortune).” In July 2022, we collected over 210,000 signatures across all cities and towns in Osaka Prefecture, urging for a referendum to hear the opinions of residents. However, this request was promptly rejected by Governor Yoshimura.
Thirdly, there are significant issues inherent to the Yumeshima site itself, where the Expo venue is planned. It is not only contaminated with residual soil but also situated on land that is experiencing ongoing subsidence. According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism, a prediction has been made that within the next 30 years, a magnitude 9-class Nankai Trough mega-earthquake is likely to occur. If this happens, liquefaction could occur in Yumeshima, posing a risk of building collapse. Both the Japanese government and Osaka Prefecture acknowledge the potential for the two main routes to Yumeshima to be blocked in the event of such a disaster and are attempting to formulate disaster prevention plans. However, much of the Osaka Bay area adjacent to Yumeshima is mostly below sea level, and it is said that a tsunami could reach as far as Umeda, the central district of Osaka. Many scholars have pointed out that it is practically impossible to realize a plan for the evacuation of several hundred thousand Expo attendees. These problems are considered unsolvable based on the geological and geographical knowledge of Yumeshima. The Hanshin Awaji Earthquake and the Great East Japan Earthquake were also unpredictable, resulting in damage on an unforeseen scale. Due to the political interests of the government at the time and the economic interests of global corporations, sufficient consideration for this knowledge has been suppressed. This poses a threat to the many countries and regions participating in the Expo and can be seen as a matter of life and death. It starkly contradicts the theme of the Expo2025, which claims to be “Designing Future Society for Our Lives.” We believe that hosting the Expo in Yumeshima is unacceptable, as various issues such as soil contamination from different waste materials, challenges related to land subsidence, environmental problems, enormous financial burdens, and unresolved emergency disaster preparedness and evacuation measures in the event of earthquakes or tsunamis remain entirely unaddressed.
The above information highlights concerns that have been raised by many scholars and experts since the proposal for hosting the Expo in Yumeshima by former Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui. However, this information has not been widely communicated to the general public and has been pushed forward forcefully. We cannot help feeling fear and anger about the reality; whether it is appropriate to gather people in Yumeshima. In an effort to make more people aware of these facts, we have created a pamphlet that outlines specific issues and overlays aerial photographs of Yumeshima. We have enclosed it, so please take a moment to review it.
Were such issues discussed during the International Participants Meeting 2023 Autumn held by the Expo Association on November 14-15, 2023? For your information, the Kansai International Airport, also built in Osaka Bay, unlike Yumeshima, was reclaimed for construction purposes. However, it has already subsided by 17 meters. In September 2018, Typhoon No. 21 caused runway and terminal flooding, and a tanker collision made a connecting bridge impassable, leaving about 8,000 passengers stranded. (Currently, approximately 54.1 billion yen has been spent on disaster prevention work.) Furthermore, one of the two access points, the Yumemai Ohashi, was closed due to strong winds with speeds of 20 meters per second, and the other, Yumesaki Tunnel, was flooded in June 2023 due to heavy rain, causing a road closure. The Expo period (April 13 to October 13, 2025) coincides with the rainy season, known as “Tsuyu” and the typhoon season, which causes extensive damage throughout Japan every year. This overlap poses additional risks, especially considering the ongoing construction of a giant ring, which has raised concerns about heatstroke and led to its creation as a sunshade.
We strongly oppose the creation of a casino that brings misery to people. Instead, we hope for the revival of the vast saline wetlands that became a hotspot for biodiversity lost during the Expo construction (for more details, please refer to the enclosed pamphlet from the “Osaka Nature and Environmental Conservation Association.”) We also wish to collaborate in achieving the global goals of SDGs, working towards a truly meaningful “Designing Future Society for Our Lives.” We earnestly request individuals from around the world to pause and reconsider their participation in the Osaka-Kansai Japan Expo. Please, we sincerely ask for your consideration. Thank you very much for your understanding and cooperation.
1. 28 times the standard value! Local residents are worried about soil contamination at the planned Osaka Expo & IR site… Bagged mud is covered with concrete and used as a parking lot. https://news.yahoo.co.jp/articles/c3b56b56375242101f6f9e787d9bfc893cd612cc?s=03
2. What should we do about Osaka Expo? https://ameblo.jp/mori-arch-econo/entry-12818286718.html
3.Liquefaction countermeasure work begins on Yumeshima, the planned IR construction site, adjacent to the Expo site. https://mainichi.jp/articles/20231204/k00/00m/040/1310
4. Questioning Osaka IR: Who will bear the risks posed by Yumeshima, a waste landfill? https://weekly-economist.mainichi.jp/articles/20231128/se1/00m/020/049000c
5. Uplift of Yumeshima, the site of the Expo2025 https://mainichi.jp/articles/20200207/k00/00m/040/360000c
6. Exhaustive article on the problems with the Osaka Expo https://www.data-max.co.jp/article/65822