Osaka’s IR policy may soon change course. Osaka prefecture and city are aiming to develop an IR on Osaka Bay’s man-made island of Yumeshima, and they have started to consider a partial opening in 2024 now that it has become apparent that a full opening by that time would be difficult.
Yumeshima is also due to the host the Osaka/Kansai Expo in 2025. It was hoped that the prefecture and city could take advantage of this by having an IR open in time, but due to the short construction schedules and both projects overlapping, it has proven problematic, according to the Mainichi Shimbun.
Osaka is planning to recruit an IR operator within the next 12 months and is drafting an implementation policy that includes recruitment criteria and schedule. According to officials, the construction of the Expo is top priority, while IR operators who have shown an interest in Osaka are focused on quality and have expressed the opinion that a 2024 full opening would be difficult considering the schedule and construction criteria.
In fact, one of the operators known to have answered Osaka’s Request for Concept held before the formal recruitment process stressed in a press conference last month that for a 2024 opening to be achieved, construction would need to start immediately. It was clearly expressed that such a goal for 2024 would be nigh on impossible. The World Expo will begin in May 2025.
While a partial opening now appears to be the more likely option, Mayor Ichiro Matsui stated over the weekend, “There are too many uncertainties to arrange the operators, but we have not abandoned [a full opening before the Expo].”