USJ CEO announces a plan to build a theme park in Okinawa
March 19, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo
Glenn Gumpel, CEO of the company behind Universal Studios Japan (USJ), the US movie theme park in Osaka, held a press conference in Osaka City on March 18. Gumpel announced plans to build a theme park in Okinawa. Gumpel described the scale of the development; “although it will be smaller than Tokyo Disney Land or USJ Osaka, it will still be big.” Gumpel did not mention any specific information on location or opening time. However, people involved indicate the company is looking into the possible use of state-owned land around the Ocean Expo Park in Motobu. The plan will also consider the area around the Neo Park Okinawa in Nago City, which has been previously targeted.
Gumpel said, “This park will not be featuring movies or TV shows. It will be something to fit into Okinawa.” Regarding the development plan of the new park, Gumpel further stated, “We want to grow our business outside of Osaka as well.”
According to those involved, the new facilities will take advantage of the nature of Okinawa.
However, they also said the plan is still in its initial phase and it is not guaranteed whether the plan will be implemented or not. A spokesperson for the USJ further explained, “CEO Gumpel announced the development with a disclaimer that we have not guaranteed that the company will execute the plan or not.”
The USJ operating company has been considering Kyusyu, Okinawa and other places in Asia as candidates for developing a new park. The team has been to Okinawa multiple times for site studies while communicating with the Okinawa Prefectural Government and Nago City. In his interview with Kyodo News before, Gumpel stated, “We are negotiating with multiple stakeholders in and out of the country. Nago City is one of them.”
Regarding the USJ plan in Okinawa, House of Representatives member Mikio Shimoji said that the Japanese government officials involved showed him theme park development plans for possible sites in Nago, Motobu, and Nakijin. If a location is decided and the project is confirmed, construction will start within the year.
Okinawa Governor: “A new USJ theme park will benefit Okinawan tourism”
Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga responded to the announcement by CEO Glenn Gumpel on 18th. Onaga said, “In our attempt to reach to the goal of one trillion yen of tourism income and ten million tourists, a new theme park would be an attractive tourism facility, equivalent to Churaumi Aquarium and Shuri Castle.” Onaga added, “The discussion is significant for the future of Okinawan tourism, and it should be welcomed.”
(English translation by T&CT and Sayaka Sakuma)
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