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2010 is No.1: volunteer

JAPANESE volunteers will end their work at the World Expo today.

Atsushi Futakami, 38, a leader of the Japanese volunteer group, is a super Expo fan. He has now seen eight Expo events - three as a volunteer and five as a visitor - and said the Shanghai Expo has been "the most impressive."

"I will tell my parents that the 1970 Osaka Expo, the greatest in their memory, will only be second place in the history of the world fairs," he said.

The 1970 Osaka Expo, the first Expo held in Japan, is a source of national pride as it was a symbol of the country's extremely rapid development in the 1960s.

There are parallels between the Osaka Expo and the Shanghai Expo in terms of their significance. The Osaka Expo attracted 64.2 million visitors, a record that is expected to be beaten by the Shanghai Expo.

Futakami's parents always talked about the Osaka Expo, which made him develop great interest in the event. In return, he decided to vividly describe the Shanghai Expo to his parents, now in their 60s, and his friends, who were not able to attend.

About 250 Japanese applied for the volunteer posts at Shanghai Expo and 76 were selected. They served near the Japan Pavilion and the Japan Industry Pavilion from July 23 to August 18.

Most of them are university students or retirees. Some were volunteers at the 2005 Expo in Japan's Aichi Prefecture.

About half speak Chinese well while the others have a good command of English.

Futakami said many Chinese mistakenly thought they were locals, so they made badges saying: "We are Japanese volunteers." Futakami said he also made 200 name cards to give to tourists.

"The World Expo is a fantastic opportunity to broaden your horizons and make friends from all over the world," he said.


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