Date : October 12 - 13, 2023
Report: Osaka Press Tour
post date : 2023.11.02
Ahead of the G7 Trade Ministers' Meeting in Osaka-Sakai held on October 28 and 29, 2023, this press tour for foreign journalists located in Japan was held to cover the appeal of southern Osaka, including Sakai, and initiatives for Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai.
The journalists filmed and photographed the venue for Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai and the Mozu-Furuichi Kofun Group World Heritage site from a helicopter. The tour also covered the topics of companies using technology to provide solutions for issues caused by declining birthrates and a reduced work force, unique local industries in southern Osaka, Osaka’s ancient history, and the aerial hub for Expo 2025, Osaka Kansai. This press tour, which visited southern Osaka, including Sakai and Minamikawachi, had 11 journalists from 11 media outlets based out of Bangladesh, China, France, the Philippines, South Korea, and Spain.
*This tour was sponsored by the 2023 G7 Trade Ministers’ Meeting Osaka-Sakai Promotion Council, and planned and operated by the FPCJ.
*For more details on the tour stops, see the tour notice here.
<Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai venue and World Heritage site: Filming and photographing from above in a helicopter >
After arriving at Yao Airport, a few tour participants at a time rode in a helicopter for around 40 minutes, filming and photographing from the skies the Mozu-Furuichi Kofun Group, the Expo venue under construction, and famous Osaka sites such as Osaka Castle. The journalists not on the helicopter heard from the G7 Trade Ministers’ Meeting Osaka-Sakai Promotion Council about local initiatives to prepare for the meeting. The Japan Association for the 2025 World Exposition also briefed the journalists about preparations for Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, and a representative from the Sakai City World Heritage Division gave an explanation of the Mozu-Furuichi Kofun Group World Heritage site. The journalists asked a number of questions about Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, including about the state of construction of the pavilions, construction costs, and its economic impact.
<Kawachi Wine Konjikido, Minamikawachi Fruits Road>
Kawachi Wine, a winery located in the city of Habikino, Osaka, which has long been known for its quality grapes, was founded over 80 years ago. In addition to being able to see how wine is made there, the winery also has a restaurant in a renovated traditional Japanese warehouse, where visitors can enjoy meals that pair well with wine. The tour first visited the winery and heard from company president Mr. Shigeyuki Kondo about the winemaking process, and was able to see wine being added to a tank. At the Konjikido restaurant beside the winery, the journalists enjoyed a lunch of unique Japanese dishes prepared using Osakan ingredients, along with sampling a variety of wines. The journalists asked questions about exports of Kawachi Wine products, and what Mr. Kondo thought about the decline in alcohol consumption in recent years due to changing youth trends.
The tour then drove along Minamikawachi Fruits Road, which is lined by grape greenhouses, and heard in the bus from Osaka Prefecture Minamikawachi Agricultural and Greenery General Office staff about agriculture in Osaka and the characteristics of the grapes and figs grown in the area.
The Chikatsu Asuka area in southern Osaka is home to a number of kofun (burial tombs), including the grave of Prince Shotoku, and the Chikatsu Asuka Museum which opened in 1994 was designed to blend into its surroundings. The tour heard from museum director Mr. Kazumi Tateno about kofun culture, how ancient Japanese kingdoms were formed, local history, and the museum’s unique features. The journalists asked questions about whether the latest technology had been useful in researching kofun, and about the mystique of kofun and how well known they are. Regarding how Japan’s kofun are less well known than, for example, the pyramids, Mr. Tateno brought up the lack of materials available in languages other than Japanese, and commented on the necessity of disseminating information overseas. In the museum, a curator provided explanations of the exhibits while the journalists looked at objects excavated from kofun and a model of the Nintoku-tenno-ryo Kofun. The journalists asked questions such as what techniques the people of the time used to build the kofun in such uniform shapes.
The tour visited Sugita Seiren, one of the few workshops that makes Osaka Kongo sudare, which has been designated as a traditional craft by the national government. At the Sudare Museum near the workshop, also made by Sugita Seiren, the tour heard from Mr. Hiromasa Moriguchi, director of the Osaka Sudare Cooperative Association, about the history of sudare and the tools and machines used to make them. Next, at the workshop the tour heard from Sugita Seiren president Mr. Koichi Sugita, who has made sudare for years and was recognized as a Notable Skilled Worker (Contemporary Master Craftsman), about processes such as splitting bamboo and weaving the thin bamboo strands together using a machine. The journalists intently filmed and photographed these demonstrations. At Mr. Sugita’s home, where numerous sudare are hung, he spoke about the decline in demand for sudare due to the popularization of air conditioning, and about the lack of the next generation of artisans, and support from the government. The journalists seemed impressed by Mr. Sugita’s craftsmanship, and his strong desire to keep those skills alive.
<Kubota Corporation Sakai Plant>
The tour visited the Kubota Corporation Sakai Plant, the mother plant for Kubota’s machinery business. First, the tour heard from plant manager Mr. Junji Takeda about the plant’s business results and how many units it shipped of tractors, engines and more. The tour then saw engines and tractors being assembled in the plant, and had the opportunity to try riding a tractor. In a Q&A session after seeing the plant, the journalists asked about the ratio of women and foreign employees, hiring conditions at the plant, the impact of the recent weak yen, and the merits of overseas production. Mr. Takeda commented that, although there were concerns about a shortage of workers as the birthrate continued to decline and the population aged, he would like to an attractive workplace and appealing products.
The tour visited the HCI Robo House café which HCI Co., Ltd. opened in April 2022, where everything from cooking to collecting the dishes is fully automated. Company president Mr. Koji Okuyama gave an overview of the company, its management principles, and examples of robot systems being used. The journalists asked questions about sales for the company’s systems using industrial and service industry robots, and its competitive strategy. Regarding participation in Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, Mr. Okuyama commented, “We have been asked about exhibiting a humanoid robot at a pavilion, and are thinking of a robot to welcome guests, but nothing concrete has been decided yet.” He also spoke passionately about providing a variety of different robots to different locations as a company that acts as a “general producer” for robots in the fast-paced robot industry. The journalists then ate lunch surrounded by a variety of robots, filming and photographing the meal preparation by three robots, as well as taking shots of the other robots, such as the serving robots. Next, the tour saw a demonstration of a robot cutting and processing wood at the HCI Test Factory exhibition facility, which has robots of all sizes.
At the Senshu Towel Museum, the tour heard from Mr. Kenji Fukuroya, president of Sensu towel manufacturer Fukuroya Towel, about his company, the unique characteristics of Senshu towels, their original towels dyed using vegetables that would have been disposed of, and overseas sales. Mr. Fukuroya explained his desire to have people visiting the area for Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai to experience local hot springs and public baths together with Senshu towels. The journalists asked questions about measures to prevent water pollution from dyeing and wastewater, and competition in pricing between Japanese and foreign towels. Mr. Fukuroya responded, “Although we cannot compete with foreign-made towels on price, we have researched materials that Japanese people like and fit with Japan’s climate, making towels which are thin and dry easily, and are promoting them overseas as well.” The tour then visited the workshop, where the filmed and photographed towels being made with letters and designs woven in.
At the Kansai International Airport, the journalists filmed and photographed planes taking off and landing from the observation deck, which has a view of the runways and terminals. At the office of Kansai Airports, located within the airport, the tour heard about the airport’s unique features, how many people used it before and after the pandemic, initiatives for using hydrogen, the environmental vision for coexisting with nature based around Osaka Bay, and how renovations are progressing. The journalists asked how busy they expected the airport to be during the Expo, what was being done to prepare for the expo, and the issue of the reclaimed land settling and countermeasures using the latest technology. The Kansai Airports staff commented that they were renovating the terminals and implementing “fast travel”, as the Kansai International Airport would be the “first pavilion” overseas visitors encountered, and the goal was to make it the first place they enjoyed after arriving.
◆Below is some of the reporting based on this tour.
The Korea Economic Daily (South Korea)
「 18개월 남은 오사카 엑스포 현장 가보니…건설비 올라 아직도 허허벌판」(October 15)
JoongAng Ilbo（South Korea）
「거기선 차가 하늘 난다…제2 도약 시동 건 오사카 '18조원 꿈'」(October 16)
The Dong-a Ilbo (South Korea)
「인공섬 위 오사카 엑스포, 세계 최대 목조건물 ‘윤곽’」(October 16)
Prothom Alo （Bangladesh）
Xinhua News Agency（China）
Les Echos （France）
Agencia EFE （Spain）
「Sobrecostes, retrasos y retiradas de países amenazan la Expo de Osaka 2025」(YouTube, November 10)
「Aerial photos of Osaka city and 2025 Expo site」（November 6）