Osaka has been proactive among candidates for the first three Integrated Resort licenses. Local enterprises also showed their interest and support to the initiative. Elected to run the Expo for a second time 55 years later, Osaka Prefecture and City Governments aims to extend the economic benefits brought by Expo 2025 with the Integrated Resort development.
Mega-events bring visitors, resources and attention from all over the world. It is expected the world fair will bring around 30 million visitors to the city. However, the effects are temporary, and it is crucial to make good use of the Expo legacies.
The venue for Osaka Expo 2025 is Yumeshima, a man-made island referred to as the “negative legacy” as a large part of it was to remain unused after the economic bubble burst of the early 1990s in Japan. Now, with the opportunities ahead, the government has indicated a strong will to develop the island into an Integrated Resort, an international tourism location with MICE and entertainment facilities.
Larger Scale Infrastructure Projects
After winning the rights to host Expo 2025, Osaka has decided to extend the Chuo subway line to Yumeshima and to widen the bridge to the island. However, if Osaka receives the IR license, it will be scaled up. Osaka Metro indicated that they will expand Yumeshima station into to a 55-storey, 275m-high tower building if the IR is coming. JR West Japan and Keihan Electric Railway also expressed willingness to extend their railway lines to the resort.
Vibrant Gateway Town
While there are many projects waiting for the result of IR bidding, Osaka is also progressing to renew the gateway town of Kansai International Airport. Just five minutes away from the airport, Rinku-Town is popular to inbound tourists for the Rinku Premium Outlets shopping mall. It has over 200 shops and more than 85,000 square meters of site area after several expansions. The facility will add a further 48 shops in August 2020 with Phase 5 development. Moreover, an ice arena, a hotel and spa facility opened in 2019 which target transit visitors and other airport visitors. In the future, redevelopment of the Rinku Central Park has been scheduled and expected to open in 2024. Hotel, MICE venue, retail facilities and apartment units are proposed for the 27- and 18-storey twin tower building.
Enhanced Airport Connectivity
Currently, there is no express train service connecting Kansai Airport and Osaka Station (or Umeda) area. The two operators, JR West Japan and Nankai Electric Railway, provide rapid train services only to Tennoji, Shin-Osaka and Kyoto (Haruka) and Shin-Imamiya and Nanba (Rapi:t) respectively.
The situation will change in Spring 2023 when the new Osaka station comes into service. Furthermore, the Naniwa-suji Line which is expected to open in 2031 will allow Nankai’s trains to run through to north Osaka. Visitors can also go to Yumeshima (the proposed IR location) by changing at Nakanoshima station.