The Japanese city of Osaka was selected Friday to host the World Exposition in 2025, beating Ekaterinburg in Russia and the Azerbaijani capital Baku, as it pledged to focus on designing a future society with the help of health and medical technologies.
It will be the second time that Osaka Prefecture, in western Japan, hosts the event. The 1970 World Expo was held there and attended by around 64 million people, the second most in history after the Shanghai Expo in 2010.
(Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui (2nd from L) celebrates in Paris)
Osaka beat Ekaterinburg in the final run-off with 92 votes from member countries of expo's governing body, the Bureau International des Expositions, against the Russian city's 61. In the first round, Osaka obtained 85 votes while Ekaterinburg and Baku won 48 and 23 votes, respectively.
"We'll shock the world (through the event)," Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui said in Paris, where the BIE was holding a general meeting. "We'll make a new start from here."
Under the theme "Designing Future Society for Our Lives," Osaka aims to spur a global effort to achieve sustainable societies.
(People celebrate in Osaka after the city was picked to host the 2025 World Expo)
Osaka hopes to bring people and ideas together in the pursuit of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals -- 17 objectives to be achieved by 2030, including no poverty, zero hunger, gender equality, sustainable cities and communities, and climate action.
"We'll strive to make the expo a success. There is a big responsibility because this is everyone's expo," Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko, who joined the Japanese delegation in Paris, told reporters.
In Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he is "very delighted" at the selection, saying in a statement, "The hosting of the expo will be a golden opportunity to transmit Japan's appeal to the world."
He also expressed confidence that the expo will contribute to revitalizing Japan's regional economies as more tourists are expected to visit other parts of the country in addition to Osaka.
Japan is expecting 28 million visitors to the expo, scheduled between May 3 and Nov. 3, 2025, and estimates that the event will help boost the local economy by 2 trillion yen ($18 billion) and underpin the country's growth after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Ekaterinburg, located near the Ural mountains and Russia's fourth-largest city, based its bid on the idea of future technological innovation as a catalyst for improved living conditions.
Baku, sitting on the Caspian Sea in oil-rich Azerbaijan, offered as the theme of its proposal the talent, vitality and achievement of humanity.
Neither Azerbaijan nor Russia has hosted an expo before.
Known officially as International Registered Exhibitions, expos are held every five years, their themes based on the great challenges of the time.
The French government had sought to host the 2025 exposition in Paris, but withdrew its candidacy earlier this year, citing financial concerns.
Japan most recently hosted the event in 2005 in Aichi Prefecture, a vibrant area of central Honshu where the city of Nagoya is located and Toyota Motor Corp. is headquartered.
The next expo will take place in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, in 2020, while the most recent one was held in Milan, Italy, in 2015.
Earlier Friday, the three candidates made their final presentations at the general meeting.
Japan's Seko somewhat nervously took the stage and extended an invitation to visit Osaka, from which he hails, before the "Pokemon" character Pikachu introduced a short video showing the planned site for the 2025 expo on the man-made island of Yumeshima in Osaka Bay.