World Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai will open to the public in 1,500 days, embarking millions of visitors on a six-month discovery of its theme “Designing Future Society for Our Lives”.

On this occasion, Hiroyuki Ishige, the Secretary-General of the Japan Association for the 2025 World Exposition, sets out the vision for the World Expo as well as the various programmes being organised in preparation for the event.

World Expos are aimed at addressing subjects of universal interest, applicable to all of humanity. With so many challenges of a global nature, what is Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai focusing on?

Hiroyuki Ishige: The world is in the midst of a pandemic and across countries, people are suffering from the spread of deadly disease and resulting economic downturn. Many people are losing their lives, their jobs, opportunities to improve themselves, and human interactions with their loved ones and friends. I have no doubt we will eventually rise above this extraordinary challenge. But we must look beyond post-Covid-19 and envision a resilient and sustainable society for the lives of future generations. That’s why I believe the theme of the Expo is particularly pertinent today: “Designing Future Society for Our Lives” and “Saving Lives, Empowering Lives, and Connecting Lives.” This is what we are focusing on in Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai.

The theme of Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai is reflected in the Expo concept of “People’s Living Lab.” What does this concept signify?

Hiroyuki Ishige: As a showcase in the post-Covid-19 world, this Expo will provide a tremendous opportunity for the global community to design, experiment and demonstrate a possible future society that would save our lives, empower our lives and connect our lives for years to come.

The concept of People’s Living Lab serves as a guideline for participants to address the theme, “Designing Future Society for our Lives”.

"The most distinctive characteristic of this Expo will be the endeavour to give a realistic picture of a future society"

World Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai was formally registered by the BIE in December of last year. What are the next steps that the Expo is now focusing on?

Hiroyuki Ishige: Following the formal registration of World Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai by the BIE in December last year, we have sent invitations to countries and international organisations to participate in Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai. We have only four years until the opening of Expo 2025. Therefore, we requested all participating countries and organisations to submit their applications as soon as possible. Given the standard period of time necessary for obtaining building permits and for construction on the Expo site, we strongly recommend that official participants submit their applications by June 2021 for self-built pavilions (Type A), and by December 2021 for module pavilions (Type B) and Organiser-built shared pavilions (Type C).

Participants that have submitted their application for the exhibition by these dates may be given priority when allocating exhibition space.

With 1,500 days before the opening of Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, activities are already taking place to engage individuals, associations and companies. What do these programmes aim to contribute to the Expo 2025 experience?

Hiroyuki Ishige: Participants such as businesses, organisations, local governments and grassroots bodies are partners in our efforts to put the Expo's theme into practice. We will offer diverse forms of participation so that Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, Japan, will be able to have a larger number of and a wider range of participants than the past Expos had. One of these new programmes is TEAM EXPO 2025, which we launched last year.

TEAM EXPO 2025 is an initiative to create an ideal future society through collaboration between diverse participants to put into practice the theme of Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, “Designing Future Society for Our Lives,” as well as to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It can be said that the most distinctive characteristic of this Expo will be the endeavour to give a realistic picture of a future society. This will have begun even before the opening of the Expo by inviting diverse participants to come together with various initiatives in their respective positions, not just relating to the exhibition and experience at the Expo site but through their own actions as well.

"Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai will provide an ideal opportunity for humankind to confirm its own potential"

In this programme, we are calling for proposals on initiatives pursued by teams with various ideas and practical knowledge about putting future society into practice, and support their initiatives. We also have a platform for co-creation in both online and offline spaces.

Among the initiatives for this programme, a series of excellent, practical, globally reproducible and useful initiatives towards the future will be displayed and demonstrated as best practices in the Expo’s Best Practice Area. Moreover, by introducing these practices and sharing them with people around the world both online and offline, and both inside and outside the Expo site, we will deliver an interactive Expo and create a new Expo archetype.

How do you see Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai offering a vision for a new, post-pandemic world?

Hiroyuki Ishige: Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai will provide an ideal opportunity for humankind, which has faced the unprecedented crisis of the global Covid-19 pandemic, to confirm its own potential, which this critical situation has made possible, and verify and propose new forms of life and society. To advocate the importance of respecting human diversity and put into practice the Expo's theme, “Designing Future Society for Our Lives”, the Expo has planned the following eight thematic projects:

Quest of Life, Totality of Life, Embracing Lives, Cycle of Lives, Amplification of Lives, Invigoration of Lives, Forging Lives, Resonance of Lives

Experience with these thematic projects will inspire people to reflect on life and take creative action. If every human being exerts small efforts for the sake of others and the planet, the resonance of these efforts will increase satisfaction and trigger initiatives in favour of “Designing Future Society for Our Lives.”

"The design of the Expo symbolises the idea of unity in diversity"

The site of the Expo is located on Yumeshima Island, an artificial island on the waterfront of Osaka. In an area of 155 hectares, we will build a grand roof (ring) with a diameter of 600 metres and a circumference of about 2 kilometres.

This will be the connecting point between the various pavilions of participating countries. It is a design that emphasises “connection.”

If you go up onto the grand roof, you can connect with the sky and see the ocean. The design symbolises the idea of “unity in diversity.”

As the world is divided, and strife and inequality are becoming more apparent with the Covid-19 pandemic, we would especially like to emphasise the importance of “connecting,” collaborating, and co-creating, while respecting diversity.

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