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GENEVA (Kyodo) Japan ranks 17th in the latest international survey of economic competitiveness published by The International Institute for Management Development, a Swiss business school, rising four places from last year.

The World Competitiveness Yearbook 2006, released Thursday by IMD, rates the United States, Hong Kong and Singapore as the world’s three most competitive economies, unchanged from last year.

China jumped to 19th place from 31st, while India rose to 29th place from 39th. South Korea fell nine notches to 38th place.

The annual study measures competitiveness trends in 61 economies using 312 criteria. The economies’ overall competitiveness is determined by assessing four broad areas: economic performance, government efficiency, business efficiency and infrastructure.

Japan rose in all four areas, with economic performance at 15th, government efficiency at 31st, business efficiency at 23rd and infrastructure at second.

The IMD noted that to enhance its competitiveness, Japan must deal with its aging society, improve its physical environment, and strengthen administrative and financial reforms.

In the early 1990s, Japan ranked near the top of the IMD survey, but between 1996 and 2002 it had fallen from fourth place to 27th.