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Expoland Files for Bankruptcy

Expoland, the operator of Expoland amusement park in Suita, Osaka Prefecture, Japan announced it had filed for bankruptcy protection under the Civil Rehabilitation Law with the Osaka District Court.

The park has seen a drastic decrease in visitors since the May, 2007 derailment of Fujin Raijin II, a Togo Stand up coaster, killed one woman and injured 19 others. The park suspended operations immediately after the accident and did not reopen until August. The park closed again in December because the number of visitors had dropped by 80%.

The park hopes to reopen in the future with a focus on attracting families. Tadakazu Shimizu, president of Expoland, said at a press conference that the park had asked seven firms to support its reconstruction.

"We couldn't overcome the negative image caused by the fatal accident," Shimizu said. "The firms didn't believe they could profit from supporting us because of the unexpectedly large decrease in visitors."

He added that he planned to make the amusement park a place that could be enjoyed by the whole family, with a new petting zoo and family farms, breaking away from the conventional amusement park concept of rides and attractions.

Masanori Ito, former director and administrative manager of the park, and two other park employees were indicted in April on charges of professional negligence resulting in death and injuries, relating to the fatal accident. An investigation revealed that the axels on the standup coaster had not been inspected as required and had never been replaced.

Expoland is home six steel roller coasters, although Fujin Raijin II never reopened after the accident.

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* Lee Ann Draud
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* Rus Ozana
ACE News Now Editor

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