Tokyo remains the top city in Asia for attracting global talent and in third place worldwide, standing a strong chance of overtaking New York soon to clinch the No. 2 spot, according to the latest Global Power City Index ranking released Thursday.
The survey, compiled annually by the Mori Memorial Foundation’s Institute for Urban Strategies, assesses the “magnetism” of 44 global cities for attracting creative people and business enterprises and gives scores based on six criteria: economy, environment, livability, research and development, cultural interaction, and accessibility.
London has held the top spot for six straight years, followed by New York, Tokyo, Paris, Singapore, Seoul, Amsterdam, Berlin, Hong Kong and Sydney. Two other Japanese cities, Osaka and Fukuoka, are ranked 26th and 37th respectively.
“While there remains some uncertainty surrounding the U.K.’s exit from the EU, London’s balanced strengths across several categories mean the city has the potential to turn challenges into opportunities,” the report said.
Tokyo this year saw major improvement in its score for cultural interaction. But it slipped into fourth place for the economy criteria, having previously been top in this category throughout the 10 years since the survey started in 2008. Its fall was attributed to a decline in the size of its economy and a reduced rating for its business environment.
The report also highlighted weaknesses in Tokyo’s livability (14th) and environment (12th); its livability score was lower than that of Fukuoka, which ranked 13th in the category.
Despite that, Tokyo still remains strong in the ranking thanks to an improved cultural interaction score, boosted by an increase in the number of foreign visitors to Japan ahead of 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic games, said Hiroo Ichikawa, a professor at Meiji University and an executive director of the Mori Memorial Foundation who helped compile the list.
The number of foreign visitors to Japan surpassed 20 million for the first time last year by attracting 24.04 million foreign visitors, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization. The growth trend has continued so far this year, with 18.9 million foreign guests having already visited the country as of August — on pace to break last year’s record.
While Tokyo’s economy rating took a hit, New York was rated highest this year in the category. The vibrant U.S. metropolis was pushed up from its No. 3 spot last year by a strong rating for gross domestic product, but it failed to make significant improvements in overall score.
As a result, New York increased its score by just 1.6 points to 1386.3 points, whereas Tokyo’s rating climbed by about 16.2 points from last year to an overall score of 1354.7 points. The gap between the two narrowed to 31.6 points from 46.2 points last year. London’s total this year was 1560.1 points.
The narrowing gap between overall scores for Tokyo and New York presents an opportunity for Tokyo to surpass New York in the ranking by 2020, Ichikawa said. To raise its score further, the government needs to take further measures to ease regulations and to draw more foreign capital into the country, he said.
“The strength of Japan lies in world-class technologies. I believe Japan’s further growth depends on how well it exploits such technologies for urban management,” he said.