Japan's World Expo ends after drawing 22 million visitors

Tens of thousands of people crowded Japan's World Expo before it ended its six-month run on Sunday after entertaining 22 million people with a blend of high technology and environmental awareness.

The Aichi Expo 2005 drew about 7 million more visitors than forecast, and is earmarked to bring in 15 billion yen (US$134 million; Ђ108 million ) more than expected in ticket sales, for a total of 42.5 billion yen (US$380 million; Ђ308 million), organizers said.

Last-minute visitors rushed through the pavilions from 122 countries and regions with families posing for pictures with the expo's mascots, Morizo and Kiccoro, as well as the many robots patrolling the grounds. The fair kicked off on March 24 in central Japan with the twin themes of technology and the environment.

"We mark the closing day with success," Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said at a ceremony. "I hope the respect for resources would spread around the world, so we can achieve a society where human beings and nature can live in harmony."

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