Osaka

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Osaka
大阪市
Osaka City
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From top left: Umeda skyscrapers, Dōtonbori, Tsūtenkaku viewed from Shinsekai, Abeno Harukas, Osaka Castle, Shitennō-ji
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Osaka
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Location of Osaka in Osaka Prefecture
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Osaka
Location in the Kansai region
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Osaka
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Osaka
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Osaka
Coordinates: 34°41′38″N135°30′8″E / 34.69389°N 135.50222°E / 34.69389; 135.50222 Coordinates: 34°41′38″N135°30′8″E / 34.69389°N 135.50222°E / 34.69389; 135.50222
Country Japan
Region Kansai
Prefecture Osaka Prefecture
Island Honshu
Government
  Body Osaka City Council
   Mayor Ichirō Matsui (ORA) [1]
Area
   Designated city 225.21 km2 (86.95 sq mi)
  [2] [ circular reference ]
Population
 (January 1, 2015)
   Designated city 2,691,185
  Rank 3rd in Japan
  Density12,214/km2 (31,630/sq mi)
   Metro
[3] (2nd)
19,303,000 (2019, Keihanshin)
Time zone UTC+9 (Japan Standard Time)
- Tree Cherry
- Flower Pansy
AddressOsaka City Hall: 1-3-20 Nakanoshima, Kita-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka-fu
530-8201
Phone number06-6208-8181
Website www.city.osaka.lg.jp

Developments

In July 2012, a joint multi-party bill was submitted to the Diet that would allow for implementation of the Osaka Metropolis plan as pursued by the mayor of Osaka city, the governor of Osaka and their party. If implemented, Osaka City, neighboring Sakai City and possibly other surrounding municipalities would dissolve and be reorganized as four special wards of Osaka prefecture – similar to former Tokyo City's successor wards within Tokyo prefecture. Special wards are municipal-level administrative units that leave some otherwise municipal administrative responsibilities and revenues to the prefectural administration. [62]

In October 2018, the city of Osaka officially ended [63] its sister city relationship with San Francisco in the United States after the latter permitted a monument memorializing "comfort women" to remain on a city-owned property, circulating in the process a 10-page, 3,800-word letter in English addressed to San Francisco mayor London Breed. [64]

On November 1, 2020, a second referendum to merge Osaka's 24 wards into 4 semi-autonomous wards was narrowly voted down. There were 692,996 (50.6%) votes against and 675,829 (49.4%) votes supported it. [39] Osaka mayor and Osaka Ishin co-leader Ichiro Matsui said he would resign when his term ends in 2023. [39]

Energy policies

Nuclear power

On February 27, 2012, three Kansai cities, Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe, jointly asked Kansai Electric Power Company to break its dependence on nuclear power. In a letter to KEPCO they also requested to disclose information on the demand and supply of electricity, and for lower and stable prices. The three cities were stockholders of the plant: Osaka owned 9% of the shares, while Kobe had 3% and Kyoto 0.45%. Toru Hashimoto, the mayor of Osaka, announced a proposal to minimize the dependence on nuclear power for the shareholders meeting in June 2012. [65]

On March 18, 2012, the city of Osaka decided as largest shareholder of Kansai Electric Power Co, that at the next shareholders-meeting in June 2012 it would demand a series of changes:

  • that Kansai Electric would be split into two companies, separating power generation from power transmission.
  • a reduction of the number of the utility's executives and employees.
  • the implementation of absolutely secure measurements to ensuring the safety of the nuclear facilities.
  • the disposing of spent fuel.
  • the installation of new kind of thermal power generation to secure non-nuclear supply of energy.
  • selling all unnecessary assets including the stock holdings of KEPCO.

In this action, Osaka had secured the support of two other cities and shareholders: Kyoto and Kobe, but with their combined voting-rights of 12.5 percent they were not certain of the ultimate outcome, because for this two-thirds of the shareholders would be needed to agree to revise the corporate charter. [66]

At a meeting held on April 10, 2012 by the "energy strategy council", formed by the city of Osaka and the governments of the prefectures, it became clear that at the end of the fiscal year 2011 some 69 employees of Kansai Electric Power Company were former public servants. "Amakudari" was the Japanese name for this practice of rewarding by hiring officials that formerly controlled and supervised the firm. Such people included the following:

  • 13 ex-officials of the: Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
  • 3 ex-officials of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry,
  • 2 ex-officials of the Ministry of the Environment,
  • 16 former policemen,
  • 10 former fire-fighters,
  • 13 former civil engineers.

Besides this, it became known that Kansai Electric had done about 600 external financial donations, to a total sum of about 1.695 billion yen:

  • 70 donations were paid to local governments: to a total of 699 million yen
  • 100 donations to public-service organizations: 443 million yen,
  • 430 donations to various organizations and foundations: a total of 553 million yen

During this meeting some 8 conditions were compiled, that needed to be fulfilled before a restart of the No.3 and No.4 reactors Oi Nuclear Power Plant:

  • the consent of the local people and government within 100 kilometer from the plant
  • the installation of a new independent regulatory agency
  • a nuclear safety agreement
  • the establishment of new nuclear safety standards
  • stress tests and evaluations based on these new safety rules [67]

Economy

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A street in Umeda, Osaka

The gross city product of Osaka in fiscal year 2004 was ¥21.3 trillion, an increase of 1.2% over the previous year. The figure accounts for about 55% of the total output in the Osaka Prefecture and 26.5% in the Kinki region. In 2004, commerce, services, and manufacturing have been the three major industries, accounting for 30%, 26%, and 11% of the total, respectively. The per capita income in the city was about ¥3.3 million, 10% higher than that of the Osaka Prefecture. [68] MasterCard Worldwide reported that Osaka ranks 19th among the world's leading cities and plays an important role in the global economy. [69] Osaka's GDP per capita (Nominal) was $59,958.($1=\120.13) [70] [71] However, by 2020, Osaka ranked 5th as most expensive cities due to flatlining consumer prices and government subsidies of public transportation. [41]

Osaka Securities Exchange in the Kitahama district of Osaka Osaka-Securities-Exchange-01.jpg
Osaka Securities Exchange in the Kitahama district of Osaka

Historically, Osaka was the center of commerce in Japan, especially in the middle and pre-modern ages. Nomura Securities, the first brokerage firm in Japan, was founded in the city in 1925, and Osaka still houses a leading futures exchange. Many major companies have since moved their main offices to Tokyo. However, several major companies, such as Panasonic, Sharp, and Sanyo, are still headquartered in Osaka. Recently, the city began a program, headed by mayor Junichi Seki, to attract domestic and foreign investment. [72] In the 2017 Global Financial Centres Index, Osaka was ranked as having the 15th most competitive financial center in the world and fifth most competitive in Asia (after Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Shanghai). [73]

The Osaka Securities Exchange, specializing in derivatives such as Nikkei 225 futures, is based in Osaka. The merger with JASDAQ will help the Osaka Securities Exchange become the largest exchange in Japan for start-up companies. [74]

According to global consulting firm Mercer, Osaka was the second most expensive city for expatriate employees in the world in 2009. It jumped up nine places from 11th place in 2008 and was the eighth most expensive city in 2007. However, it was not ranked in the top ten places of the list in 2013. [75] [76] The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranked Osaka as the second most expensive city in the world in its 2013 Cost of Living study. [77]

Keihanshin

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Greater Osaka (without Kyoto) Metropolitan Employment Area.
Keihanshin with Osaka (red), Kobe (green), and Kyoto (blue). Keihanshin MEAs 2015.png
Keihanshin with Osaka (red), Kobe (green), and Kyoto (blue).

Osaka is part of the metropolitan region called Keihanshin (aka Greater Osaka) in the Kansai region. The Keihanshin region includes the prefectures of Osaka, Kyoto, Hyōgo (Kobe), Nara, Shiga, Wakayama, Sakai. [4] The Keihanshin region has a population (as of 2015) of 19,303,000 (15% of Japan's population) which covers 13,228 km2 (5,107 sq mi). [3] It is ranked the second most urban region in Japan after the Greater Tokyo area and 10th largest urban area in the world. [3] Keihanshin has a GDP of approximately $953.9 billion in 2012 (16th largest in the world). [78] Osaka-Kobe has a GDP of $681 billion (2015), which is a bit more than Paris or Greater London. [79]

Transportation

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Map of Osaka Metro system

Greater Osaka has an extensive network of railway lines, comparable to that of Greater Tokyo. Major stations within the city include Umeda (梅田), Namba (難波), Shinsaibashi (心斎橋), Tennōji (天王寺), Kyōbashi (京橋), and Yodoyabashi (淀屋橋).

Osaka connects to its surrounding cities and suburbs via the JR West Urban Network as well as numerous private lines such as Keihan Electric Railway, Hankyu Railway, Hanshin Electric Railway, Kintetsu Railway, and Nankai Electric Railway.

The Osaka Metro system alone ranks 8th in the world by annual passenger ridership, serving over 912 million people annually (a quarter of Greater Osaka Rail System's 4 billion annual riders), despite being only 8 of more than 70 lines in the metro area.

All Shinkansen trains including Nozomi stop at Shin-Osaka Station and provide access to other major cities in Japan, such as Kobe, Kyoto, Nagoya, Yokohama, and Tokyo.

Regular bus services are provided by Osaka City Bus, as well Hankyu, Hanshin and Kintetsu, providing a dense network covering most parts of the city.

Osaka is served by two airports situated just outside of the city, Kansai International Airport (IATA: KIX) which handles primarily international passenger flights and Osaka International Airport (IATA:ITM) which handles mostly domestic services and some international cargo flights.

Due to its geographical position, Osaka's international ferry connections are far greater than that of Tokyo, with international service to Shanghai, Tianjin, Korea along with domestic routes to Kitakyushu, Kagoshima, Miyazaki and Okinawa.

Culture and lifestyle

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A chef prepares for the evening rush in Umeda
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The Glico Man among numerous signboards at Dōtonbori
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Grand Front Osaka
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Chayamachi district in Kita-ku
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Amerikamura in Chuo-ku
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Nipponbashi in Naniwa-ku

Shopping and food

Osaka has a large number of wholesalers and retail shops: 25,228 and 34,707 respectively in 2004, according to the city statistics. [80] Many of them are concentrated in the wards of Chuō (10,468 shops) and Kita (6,335 shops). Types of shops vary from malls to conventional shōtengai shopping arcades, built both above- and underground. [81] Shōtengai are seen across Japan, and Osaka has the longest one in the country. [82] The Tenjinbashi-suji arcade stretches from the road approaching the Tenmangū shrine and continues for 2.6 km (1.6 miles) going north to south. The stores along the arcade include commodities, clothing, and catering outlets.

Other shopping areas include Den Den Town, the electronic and manga/anime district, which is comparable to Akihabara; the Umeda district, which has the Hankyu Sanbangai shopping mall and Yodobashi Camera, a huge electrical appliance store that offers a vast range of fashion stores, restaurants, and a Shonen Jump store.

Osaka is known for its food, in Japan and abroad. Author Michael Booth and food critic François Simon of Le Figaro have suggested that Osaka is the food capital of the world. [83] Osakans' love for the culinary is made apparent in the old saying "Kyotoites are financially ruined by overspending on clothing, Osakans are ruined by spending on food." [84] Regional cuisine includes okonomiyaki (お好み焼き, pan-fried batter cake), takoyaki (たこ焼き, octopus in fried batter), udon (うどん, a noodle dish), as well as the traditional oshizushi (押し寿司, pressed sushi), particularly battera (バッテラ, pressed mackerel sushi).

Osaka is known for its fine sake, which is made with fresh water from the prefecture's mountains. [85] Osaka's culinary prevalence is the result of a location that has provided access to high-quality ingredients, a high population of merchants, and proximity to the ocean and waterway trade. [86] In recent years, Osaka has started to garner more attention from foreigners with the increased popularity of cooking and dining in popular culture. [87]

Other shopping districts include:

Entertainment and performing arts

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The National Museum of Art, a subterranean museum for Japanese and international arts
  • Osaka is home to the National Bunraku Theatre, [88] where traditional puppet plays, bunraku, are performed.
  • At Osaka Shochiku-za, close to Namba station, kabuki can be enjoyed as well as manzai.
  • At Shin Kabuki-za, formerly near Namba and now near Uehommachi area, enka concerts and Japanese dramas are performed.
  • Yoshimoto Kogyo, a Japanese entertainment conglomerate operates a hall in the city for manzai and other comedy shows: the Namba Grand Kagetsu hall.
  • The Hanjō-tei opened in 2006, dedicated to rakugo. The theatre is in the Ōsaka Tenman-gū area.
  • Umeda Arts Theater opened in 2005 after relocating from its former 46-year-old Umeda Koma Theater. The theater has a main hall with 1,905 seats and a smaller theater-drama hall with 898 seats. Umeda Arts Theatre stages various type of performances including musicals, music concerts, dramas, rakugo, and others.
  • The Symphony Hall, built in 1982, is the first hall in Japan designed specially for classical music concerts. The Hall was opened with a concert by the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra, which is based in the city. Orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic and Vienna Philharmonic have played here during their world tours as well.
  • Osaka-jō Hall is a multi-purpose arena in Osaka-jō park with a capacity for up to 16,000 people. The hall has hosted numerous events and concerts including both Japanese and international artists.
  • Nearby City Hall in Nakanoshima Park, is Osaka Central Public Hall, a Neo-Renaissance-style building first opened in 1918. Re-opened in 2002 after major renovation, it serves as a multi-purpose rental facility for citizen events.
  • The Osaka Shiki Theatre [89] is one of the nine private halls operated nationwide by the Shiki Theatre, staging straight plays and musicals.
  • Festival Hall was a hall hosting various performances including noh, kyōgen, kabuki, ballets as well as classic concerts. The Bolshoi Ballet and the Philharmonia are among the many that were welcomed on stage in the past. The hall has closed at the end of 2008, planned to re-open in 2013 in a new facility.

Annual festivals

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Tenjin Matsuri

One of the most famous festivals held in Osaka, the Tenjin Matsuri, is held on July 24 and 25 (Ikukunitama Shrine). Other festivals in Osaka include the Aizen Matsuri (June 30–July 2, Shōman-in Temple), the Sumiyoshi Matsuri (July 30–August 1, Sumiyoshi Taisha), Shōryō-e (April 22, Shitennō-ji) and Tōka-Ebisu (January 9–10, Imamiya Ebisu Jinja). The annual Osaka Asian Film Festival takes place in Osaka every March.

Museums and galleries

The National Museum of Art (NMAO) is a subterranean Japanese and international art museum, housing mainly collections from the post-war era and regularly welcoming temporary exhibitions. Osaka Science Museum is in a five storied building next to the National Museum of Art, with a planetarium and an OMNIMAX theatre. The Museum of Oriental Ceramics holds more than 2,000 pieces of ceramics, from China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam, featuring displays of some of their Korean celadon under natural light. Osaka Municipal Museum of Art is inside Tennōji park, housing over 8,000 pieces of Japanese and Chinese paintings and sculptures. The Osaka Museum of History, opened in 2001, is located in a 13-story modern building providing a view of Osaka Castle. Its exhibits cover the history of Osaka from pre-history to the present day. Osaka Museum of Natural History houses a collection related to natural history and life.

Sports

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The Osaka Dome, home to the Orix Buffaloes and Hanshin Tigers

Osaka hosts four professional sport teams: one of them is the Orix Buffaloes, a Nippon Professional Baseball team, playing its home games at Kyocera Dome Osaka. Another baseball team, the Hanshin Tigers, although based in Nishinomiya, Hyōgo, plays a part of its home games in Kyocera Dome Osaka as well, when their homeground Koshien Stadium is occupied with the annual National High School Baseball Championship games during summer season.

There are two J.League clubs, Gamba Osaka, plays its home games at Suita City Football Stadium. Another club Cerezo Osaka, plays its home games at Yanmar Stadium Nagai. The city is home to Osaka Evessa, a basketball team that plays in the B.League. Evessa has won the first three championships of the league since its establishment. Kintetsu Liners, a rugby union team, play in the Top League. After winning promotion in 2008–09, they will again remain in the competition for the 2009–10 season. Their base is the Hanazono Rugby Stadium.

The Haru Basho (春場所, "Spring Tournament"), one of the six regular tournaments of professional sumo, is held annually in Osaka at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.

Another major annual sporting event that takes place is Osaka is Osaka International Ladies Marathon. Held usually at the end of January every year, the 42.195 km (26.219 miles) race starts from Nagai Stadium, runs through Nakanoshima, Midōsuji and Osaka castle park, and returns to the stadium. Another yearly event held at Nagai Stadium is the Osaka Gran Prix Athletics games operated by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in May. The Osaka GP is the only IAAF games annually held in Japan.

Osaka made the bid for the 2008 Summer Olympics and the 2008 Summer Paralympics but was eliminated in the first round of the vote on July 13, 2001 which awarded the game to Beijing.

Osaka was one of the host cities of the official Women's Volleyball World Championship for its 1998, 2006 and 2010 editions.

Osaka is the home of the 2011 created Japan Bandy Federation and the introduction of bandy, in the form of rink bandy, was made in the city. [90] In July 2012 the first Japan Bandy Festival was organised. [91]

Media

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NHK Osaka

Osaka serves as one of the media hubs for Japan, housing headquarters of many media-related companies. Abundant television production takes place in the city and every nationwide TV network (with the exception of TXN network) registers its secondary-key station in Osaka. All five nationwide newspaper majors also house their regional headquarters, and most local newspapers nationwide have branches in Osaka. However major film productions are uncommon in the city. Most major films are produced in nearby Kyoto or in Tokyo. The Ad Council Japan was founded in 1971 is based in Osaka, now it is the Osaka branch.

Newspapers

All the five nationwide newspaper majors of Japan, the Asahi Shimbun , Mainichi Shimbun , Nihon Keizai Shimbun , Sankei Shimbun and Yomiuri Shimbun , [92] have their regional headquarters in Osaka and issue their regional editions. Furthermore, Osaka houses Osaka Nichi-nichi Shimbun, its newspaper press. Other newspaper related companies located in Osaka include, the regional headquarters of FujiSankei Business i.;Houchi Shimbunsha; Nikkan Sports; Sports Nippon, and offices of Kyodo News Jiji Press; Reuters; Bloomberg L.P..

Television and radio

The five TV networks are represented by Asahi Broadcasting Corporation (ANN), Kansai Telecasting Corporation (FNN), Mainichi Broadcasting System, Inc. (JNN), Television Osaka, Inc. (TXN) and Yomiuri Telecasting Corporation (NNN), headquartered in Osaka. NHK has also its regional station based in the city. AM Radio services are provided by NHK as well as the ABC Radio (Asahi Broadcasting Corporation), MBS Radio (Mainichi Broadcasting System, Inc.) and Radio Osaka (Osaka Broadcasting Corporation) and headquartered in the city. FM services are available from NHK, FM OSAKA, FM802 and FM Cocolo, the last providing programs in multiple languages including English.

As of February 2009, the city is fully covered by terrestrial digital TV broadcasts. [93]

Publishing companies

Osaka is home to many publishing companies including: Examina, Izumi Shoin, Kaihou Shuppansha, Keihanshin Elmagazine, Seibundo Shuppan, Sougensha, and Toho Shuppan.

Education

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Kansai University
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Osaka City University

Public elementary and junior high schools in Osaka are operated by the city of Osaka. Its supervisory organization on educational matters is Osaka City Board of Education. [94] Likewise, public high schools are operated by the Osaka Prefectural Board of Education.

Osaka city once had a large number of universities and high schools, but because of growing campuses and the need for larger area, many chose to move to the suburbs, including Osaka University. [95]

Historically foreign expatriates in the Kansai region preferred to live in Kobe rather than Osaka. As a result, until 1991 the Osaka area had no schools catering to expatriate children. [96] Osaka International School of Kwansei Gakuin, founded in 1991, is located in nearby Minoh, [97] and it was the first international school in the Osaka area. [96] The Great Hanshin-Awaji earthquake of 1995 caused a decline in demand for international schools, as there were about 2,500 U.S. nationals resident in Osaka after the earthquake while the pre-earthquake number was about 5,000. American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) Kansai chapter president Norman Solberg stated that since 2002 the numbers of expatriates in Kansai were recovering "but the fact is there is still a persistent exodus to Tokyo." [98] In 2001 the city of Osaka and YMCA established the Osaka YMCA International School. [96]

Colleges and universities include:

Libraries

Learned society

Facilities

"Important cultural property" (重要文化財) after the name of a facility indicates an important cultural property designated by the country.

Leisure facilities and high-rise buildings

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Universal Studios Japan

Historical site

Park/Garden

Ancient architecture

Modern architecture

Osaka
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Ōsaka in kanji

Theater/Hall

Gymnasium/Stadium

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Nagai Park is visible

Religious facilities

Shrine
Temple
Church

International relations

Tsutenkaku, a symbol of Osaka's postwar reconstruction Osakatowernight.jpg
Tsūtenkaku, a symbol of Osaka's postwar reconstruction

Twin towns – sister cities

Osaka is twinned with: [100]

Friendship cooperation cities

Osaka also cooperates with: [100]

Business partner cities

Osaka's business partner cities, mostly in the Asia-Pacific region, are: [100]

Sister ports

Osaka's sister ports are: [100]

See also

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Hanshinkan Modernism

Hanshinkan Modernism (阪神間モダニズム) identifies the modernist arts, culture, and lifestyle that developed from the region of Japan centered primarily on the Hanshinkan conurbation between Osaka and Kobe, the ideally terrained area between the Rokkō Range and the sea from the 1900s through the 1930s, or the circumstances of that period.

The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Osaka, Japan.

The Naniwasuji Line is the tentative name for a planned underground heavy rail line, which will run north-south through Osaka City, primarily under the avenue Naniwa-suji. It has long been pursued by West Japan Railway Company and Nankai Railway in order to connect the Yamatoji Line and Nankai Main Line with Shin-Osaka Station, greatly enhancing both companies' connections to Kansai Airport and Wakayama Prefecture. As of 2017, construction is expected to begin within the next few years and last until spring 2031.

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Further reading