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High Tech World’s Fair Opens

March 17, 1985

TOKYO (AP) _ Despite rain and chilly weather, more than 81,000 people turned out Sunday for the public opening of Expo ’85, a world’s fair full of robots and high technology.

A total of 41 foreign countries and 37 international organizations are participating in the Tsukuba science exposition, scheduled to last until Sept. 16 and expected to draw 20 million visitors in its 184-day run.

Yoshinori Ihara, secretary general of the Expo ’85 Association, told a news conference that despite the downpour, crowds were large and ″everything is favorable.″

The attendance, however, was smaller than the anticipated 100,000 and well below the 220,000 who turned out on the opening day of Expo ’70, a world’s fair staged in Osaka 15 years ago.

Formal opening ceremonies were held Saturday before a crowd of dignitaries including Crown Prince Akihito.

Japan’s Kyodo News Service said crowd-attracting foreign pavilions included those of the Soviet Union, China, South Korea and the United States.

The Tsukuba site is about 38 miles north of Tokyo, a 90-minute trip by train and bus. A press official said parking lots were nearly full with 6,000 cars.

Before the opening at 9:30 a.m., some 7,000 visitors, including many elementary and junior high school students, waited outside the four gates. Some had camped out two nights to become the first into the fair.

The press official, who asked not to be identified, said that 30 minutes after the opening, the waiting lines stretched to two or three hours for popular Japanese pavilions including those of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, Fujitsu Ltd., Nippon Electric Co. and the Fuyo group.

Visitors appeared interested in robots, models of future cars and computerized animation, he said.

Among the fair’s special featurea are a robot that plays the piano, some robots that walk tops along the edge of swords, and others that sketch human portraits in less than three minutes.

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