An island in southern Japan is being readied as the site for the next world fair, in 2025.
Building work for the expo site on the man-made Yumeshima island in Osaka bay, will begin in April 2023.
The Dubai Expo organisers will hand over the flag to Japan during the closing ceremony on Thursday.
Japan’s expo team has closely watched Dubai’s successful and safe handling of a global event during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The six-month mega-event in Dubai has been a runaway success since it opened in October and is inching closer to its target of 25 million visits.
The Japan pavilion with its dramatic animation and imaginative creations is one of the most popular on the Expo site.
Visitors were asked to provide suggestions at the end of the one-hour tour and these will be part of the Japan Expo.
Hiroyuki Ishige, Japan's Expo chief, shared plans with The National as the world fair moves east.
He said Dubai presented a "new model" for future world expos and had attracted business interest with its diverse pavilion offerings.
Here is the breakdown of what to expect at Osaka Expo 2025.
“Expo 2025 will be held on Yumeshima island. We would like visitors to not only see the pavilions of each participating country but also take in the nature, sea and sky of Japan,” said Mr Ishige, secretary general Japan Association for Expo 2025 Osaka Kansai.
“The Osaka and Kansai area has countless traditional Japanese temples and scenic spots which we believe will attract visitors from overseas, as well as delicious local cuisine and street food unique to each area. We hope travellers will explore Japan and experience Japanese culture.
“Currently, reclamation and subway work at Yumeshima island is under way and expected to be ready for the actual construction to begin after April 2023.”
How many countries will participate
Japan hopes to welcome 150 countries and 25 international organisations. So far, close to 90 countries have officially confirmed their participation.
The theme of Designing Future Society for Our Lives will have sub-themes of saving, empowering and connecting lives. There is a plan for a "people’s living lab" to test and demonstrate new technologies.
“It will bring together the world’s knowledge and cutting-edge technology to create new ideas and share them with the world to help resolve the global issues we face,” Mr Ishige said.
“This can be achieved not by the economy and culture of Japan alone, but rather through the co-creation of people from all over the world.
“We would like to show a vision of future society through the implementation of future mobility, virtual reality, advanced systems for sustainable site management.”
Keeping safe during Covid-19
The team from Japan will learn how Dubai attracted and handled large numbers of visitors despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
Expo 2020 Dubai recorded more than a million visits between Friday and Sunday as crowds flocked to the mega-event on its final weekend.
“We want to understand their strategic approach to draw such significant entries but more so how we can support them on location,” he said.
“Expo 2020 Dubai attracted an impressive number of participations with 192 countries making this a great achievement in the history of World Expo.”
Among Japan's key learnings have been the setting up of onsite PCR test facilities for visitors and participant countries, numerous sanitisation stations and constant health reminders.
“This is another key learning to manage infections during events of this scale,” Mr Ishige said.
The site was equipped with seminar halls and rooms for business meetings for high-profile guests from presidents of countries to heads of multinational conglomerates.
“Expo 2020 Dubai presented a new model to World Expo,” Mr Ishige said.
“It attracted business interests injecting key exhibitions within the Expo programmes to bring diversity.”
Theme weeks that covered water, climate change, inclusion, food and agriculture also drew praise.
“The remarkable efforts to focus on economies and trade opportunities with themed weeks united participating countries to discuss global issues such as space, water, nature, natural disasters and health,” he said.
“Economic diplomacy was actively conducted by the heads of state and government officials who frequented the event.
“Another attraction was fully equipped media centres for international press and television channels – many broadcast live throughout the day.”
More about the Japan Expo
The Expo will run from April 13, 2025, until October 13, with a projected number of 28 million visits, of which 3.8 million are expected from overseas.
An online platform will be launched before it begins to share solutions to the challenges the world is grappling with.
It aims to build a zone where artificial intelligence, robotics and biotechnology will be used to spark ideas.
Osaka is the country’s second-largest city after Tokyo and the Expo site is within 50km of Kyoto and Nara, Japan’s ancient capitals.