The University of Tokyo, locally known as Todai, lost its crown in this year's Times Higher Education Asia University rankings released Monday.

After occupying the number one spot for the past three years, the University of Tokyo came seventh in a list of Asia's top 200 universities. Times Higher Education described this year's results as "challenging" for Japan and blamed a lack of funding and poor international outlook for the country's position.

Singapore achieved unprecedented success in this year's rankings by taking the top two places, with the National University of Singapore at the top and Nanyang Technological University joint ranked second with Peking University, the highest-ranked Chinese institution.

A total of 39 Japanese universities made it into the top 200, with 14 listed in the top 100.

Kyoto University (11th), Tohoku University (23rd), Tokyo Institute of Technology (24th) and Osaka University (30th) all made the top 30, with four more ranked in the top 50.

Phil Baty, a Times Higher Education rankings editor, said, "Japan claims almost a fifth — 39 — of Asia's top 200 universities in this year's table, making it the most-represented nation, in joint place with China.

"However, while the list proves Japan has strength in depth, the majority of its universities appear in the bottom half of the table; just 14 Japanese institutions make the top 100, compared with 22 in China.

"Furthermore, Japan's top-ranked institution — the University of Tokyo in seventh place — has been knocked off the number one position after three years at the helm. It is Japan's only top 10 representative. Meanwhile, China, Singapore and Hong Kong have two, while South Korea has three."

Baty notes that the past few years have seen a shift in the balance of power from West to East in terms of higher education funding and performance.