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BIE Emblem and Flag


Expos had a storied history spanning over a century, dating back to the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations, held in London in 1851. Despite this long history, there had not been a common emblem or flag for the event; each host country designed its own emblem or flag for each occasion.

This changed with a proposal made during the preparations for Expo 1970 Osaka. On June 11, 1968, Vice President Yoshimaru Kanno suggested creating a unified World Exposition Emblem and flag at a meeting of directors of departments and offices. This emblem and flag were envisioned to be akin to the Olympic Flag, symbolizing international cooperation and to be passed on to future host countries.

Kanno's proposal received support from Mr. Joseph Hamels, Vice President of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE). The proposal was formally adopted by the BIE's Bulletin and Publicity Committee on October 29, 1968, and subsequently approved at the 64th BIE Directors' meeting on November 29, 1968.

To create the emblem and flag before Expo 1970 Osaka, the BIE called upon its 34 member countries to solicit designs through national competitions. In Japan, a public competition was organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, and the Japan Association for the 1970 World Exposition, with support from various local organizations. The competition received 44,628 designs from 13,389 participants.

After rigorous screening, the joint design by Hiroyoshi Ueda and Osamu Furumura won the first prize in Japan, with other notable designs receiving citations. However, during the final selection at the BIE, the design by Masanori Matsushima, a senior student at the Tokyo University of Education, was chosen as the official World Exposition Emblem.

Masanori Matsushima's design features a circle symbolizing peace, fraternity, and cultural exchange, while the horizontal lines represent steps leading to a future of boundless progress. The six lines forming an ascending arrow indicate progress, with the purple-blue color symbolizing nobility in Japan, the vast oceans, and the skies, evoking a sense of the cosmos. The white lines represent peace and justice.

Flags at the Mobility Entrance in Expo 2020 Dubai.jpg
BIE Flag.jpg

The official flag was specified with precise dimensions and colors:

1. The flag's vertical length to horizontal width ratio is 2:3.
2. The emblem's diameter to the flag's vertical length ratio is 2:3.
3. The emblem is centrally placed on the flag.
4. The colors are specified as purple-blue (9.0 purple blue and 3.0 Value/12.0 chromatic of Numsell) on a white field.

The original flag was produced by Yomiuri Newspapers and presented to the Japan Association for the 1970 World Exposition. During the Opening Ceremony of Expo 1970 Osaka, this flag was handed to the Association President and flown throughout the Expo. After the event, it was returned to the BIE for use in future Expos.

The BIE established provisional measures for the use of the emblem and flag, allowing member nations and participating non-member nations to fly the flag at their pavilions. Authorization from the BIE was required to use the emblem, with possible commercial use subject to approval and conditions set by the BIE. These measures ensured the emblem and flag's integrity and promoted the Expos' spirit of international cooperation and progress.

Source: Japan World Exposition, Osaka, 1970 Official Report. 3 vols. Vol. 1, Suita City: Commemorative Association for the Japan World Exposition, 1972. pp. 67-69.

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