Paramount Pictures is planing to build a theme park in Hisayama - a town on Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu.

Hisayama mayor Katsushige Saeki announced the plan at a special town assembly session on October 16.

According to the mayor, Paramount intends to build on a 50 hectare site - nearly as large as that of the Universal Studios Japan park in Osaka. Tokyo Disney Resort, which includes Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, encompasses nearly 200 hectares.

The site, a former golf course, will feature attractions based on Paramount films, including the Star Trek and Indiana Jones series. Construction is expected to start in 2005, with opening scheduled for 2008. Construction costs are estimated at $1.09bn (Y120bn). First year targets are five million visitors and $455m in sales.

In addition to its relatively low leasing costs, Hisayama is near Fukuoka, the prefectural capital and the largest city in Kyushu.

The theme park business in Japan has been plagued by overbuilding and falling attendance, leading to a succession of park closings and bankruptcies. The biggest failiure was that of Huis Ten Bosch, a Dutch historical theme park located near Nagasaki in Kyushu, which declared bankruptcy in February 2002 with debts of $2bn.

Tokyo Disney Resort, whose flagship Tokyo Disneyland park opened in 1983, has weathered the industry recession well and expects to record 25 millions visits in 2003. The Universal Studios park, on the other hand, has been battling a steady drizzle of bad publicity since its 2001 opening, including widely reported food and water safety problems that sent visitor figures plunging.