Tokyo is the world’s third most magnetic city for businesspeople, creative types and other forms of skilled expatriate labor. That’s according to a ranking of 42 major cities in the annual Global Power City Index, released Tuesday.
Trailing only London and New York, Tokyo inched up one notch this year, edging Paris into No. 4 position. Tokyo had held the No. 4 slot every year since the survey began in 2008.
Compiled annually by the Mori Memorial Foundation’s Institute for Urban Strategies, the ranking assesses cities for “their comprehensive power which allows them to attract creative individuals and business enterprises from every continent.”
It rates cities for six strengths: economy, research and development, cultural interaction, livability, environment and accessibility.
The two main factors for Tokyo’s rise this year were the weaker yen, thanks to the economic policies of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and increasing numbers of foreign visitors ahead of the 2020 Olympics, said GPCI committee member Hiroo Ichikawa, a professor at Meiji University’s Graduate School of Governance Studies. Ichikawa was involved in compiling the report.
Ichikawa said Paris was downgraded due to a drop in the number of tourists and foreign students following the terrorist attacks in the city last November.
Although Tokyo has traditionally been strong in the economy and research and development categories, it lags behind London and New York in terms of access and cultural interaction.
“The score for accessibility is influenced strongly by the number of international flights,” Ichikawa said. It could be difficult for Tokyo to outrank London or New York on this point, but it is going to improve as more international flights are expected to fly to Tokyo’s Haneda airport, he said.
Haneda currently fields around 90,000 international flights a year. The figure is projected to grow to 129,000 by the time of the Olympics.
In February, Japan and the United States agreed on the redistribution of flight slots at Haneda, including some daytime slots, following the expansion of international takeoff and landing rights at the airport in 2014. Starting later this month, flights linking Haneda and U.S. cities will increase to 12 a day, up from eight.
But in terms of cultural interaction, Ichikawa said Tokyo’s cultural sector, such as anime and J-pop, has low export value. In this he cast doubt on the economic benefits of the government’s Cool Japan drive.
“Content is an important factor when looking at a city’s cultural interaction,” Ichikawa said. “What’s most important is how its export is bringing benefits. Tokyo is very weak in that sense.”
A 2014 survey by Mizuho Bank supports this. It found that roughly 90 percent of cultural exports were video games, and that Japan was losing market share as game-makers overseas sharpened up. It said the same was true for Japanese anime, manga and other forms of creative culture that have triggered high-quality copycat industries in nations such as South Korea.
However, with the Olympic Games only four years away, Ichikawa said Tokyo should be proud of itself for advancing up the ranking. He said it could even aim to edge out London or New York.
With the government aiming to lure more than 40 million foreign visitors to Japan in 2020, Ichikawa said it’s now or never for Tokyo to top the ranking.
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