According to the Global Livability Survey’s ranking of 140 cities worldwide — the subject of the Sept. 1 AFP-JIJI article “Melbourne replaces Vancouver as the world’s ‘most-livable city'” — Tokyo came in 18th while Osaka was 12th! This annual survey by The Economist Intelligence Unit tends to rank Osaka higher than Tokyo every time, and that amazes many Japanese.
The article states that “Cities were assessed based on political and social stability, crime rates, access to quality health care, cultural events, the environment, education and the standard of infrastructure.” On every point, some of us think that not only Tokyo but also other big cities in Japan such as Yokohama, Nagoya and Kyoto should score higher than Osaka.
Osaka is infamous for its poverty and high crime rates, the worst in the nation. Many people’s image of Osaka is that of a lot of communists and gangsters. The air is heavily polluted and the rivers, into which crazy Tigers’ fans often dive, are dirty and stinky. There is no museum, no concert hall, no drama theater; instead, there are many vaudeville theaters. A stranger won’t be accepted unless he or she can make an Osaka person laugh.
Of course, these, too, are mere biases, but it is a fact that lots of Japanese sometimes react against Osaka citizens’ aggressive self-assertion. This point may be one of Osaka’s attractions for Western people, who sometimes claim that Japanese people in general are unfriendly, boring and hard to understand. If Westerners, then, comprehend Osaka-zin’s mind more easily, Tokyo may have to learn something from Osaka after all.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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