A plan to renew 15 Osaka subway stations ahead of the 2025 World Exposition to be hosted by the city has drawn fire, with about 20,000 people signing an online petition to express their dissatisfaction with the future designs.

"Too flashy," "Don't destroy the current atmosphere" of the stations, read comments on the campaign site launched by sociologist Masahiko Kishi, professor at Ritsumeikan University, and novelist Tomoka Shibasaki.

(Screenshot of a YouTube video clip prepared by Osaka Metro)

The renewal plan covers 15 stations along Osaka Metro Co.'s Midosuji and Chuo main lines running through central Osaka north-south and east-west, respectively.

With the theme of a "neo-futuristic Osaka," the renewal plan includes a disk-shaped observatory to be installed at Shin-Osaka Station, and a golden ceiling and platforms at Tanimachi-Yonchome Station, inspired by the golden teahouse at nearby Osaka Castle.

Each of the stations will be refurbished both inside and outside, with themes reflecting the uniqueness of their areas, according to the plan unveiled by Osaka Metro on Dec. 20.

"We'll reinvigorate Osaka and make the city more exciting," said Hideaki Kawai, president of the subway operator, which took over the city-run business in April.

The total investment for the project to renovate the stations and newly introduce 180 cars would amount to 59.5 billion yen ($536 million), according to the operator.

Following the criticism, the company said in a statement Thursday it will "update the planned designs (for renewal of the stations) by listening to the opinions of our customers and local residents."

"We don't regard (voices opposed to the current designs) as an objection to the renewal plan itself and will take note of them in promoting the project," said an Osaka Metro public relations official.

The 180 cars will be introduced on the Chuo Line, which is planned to be extended to connect the city center with the artificial island of Yumeshima, the venue for the expo in 2025. Osaka is eager to attract a casino and entertainment complex to the island, which is expected to open in 2024.

In the new cars, the company is considering adopting touch screen information panels featuring artificial intelligence to guide passengers.

(Screenshot of a YouTube video clip prepared by Osaka Metro)

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