London has overtaken New York to be ranked first in the Global Power City Index (GPCI) after significantly raising its scores for the various GPCI indicators on the occasion of the 2012 London Olympics. Tokyo, which is now ranked fourth, should take advantage of its hosting of the 2020 Olympic Games to make it the most attractive and competitive city in the world. Already suffering from a declining population and low economic growth, Japan cannot afford to deny the overconcentration of its population in Tokyo. Rather, it is necessary to adopt a policy to increase the global competitiveness of Tokyo and other large cities as much as possible in order to help Japan grow.
1. Double the Living Space in Large Cities! Relax the Regulations on Floor Area Ratios and Promote the Reconstruction of Aging Buildings!
The strengths of Tokyo in terms of economic aspects are the concentration of people and companies, and the formation of global financial and capital markets. In terms of environmental aspects, the city’s strengths lie in its favorable environment despite its megalopolis status. In terms of research and development, its strong point is its concentration of universities and other institutions. On the other hand, Tokyo’s weaknesses lie in the fields of: 1) housing, 2) access to transportation, and 3) cultural interaction.
The most serious weakness is the living space in Tokyo. Regulations on floor area ratios and restrictions on allowable use should be drastically relaxed and reconstruction of aging buildings should be promoted in order to make effective use of the infinitely expanding sky, as in Hong Kong and New York.
2. Improve the Entertainment Sector in Large Cities!
Tokyo is ranked low internationally in the cultural interaction field but it does have room to grow. Tokyo already has the largest number of Michelin three-starred restaurants of any city as well as many cultural facilities. It is also necessary to improve the entertainment capacity of other large cities. It is worth appreciating that the revised sex industry law was enacted in 2015 for the purpose of relaxing regulations on the operation of clubs and other entertainment facilities. It is hoped that efforts to relax relevant regulations would be continued for the purpose of increasing the entertainment capacity of large cities.
3. Effectively Use Nationally Strategic Special Zones to Make it Easier to Conduct Business in Large Japanese Cities compared with other World Cities!
In the Global Power City Index (GPCI), Tokyo is ranked top in the world in the Economy category. While the concentration of companies and people in Tokyo gives it an advantage, there is a lot of room for improvement in terms of regulations and business costs.
In order to beat other global cities, it is necessary to make Tokyo a city in which it is easier to conduct business, compared with other cities. Efforts to achieve this goal may include a reduction in the high costs of doing business such as corporate taxes, more preferential treatment policies using nationally strategic special zones, the simplification of complex regulations, and the implementation of policies that are as attractive as those offered by competing countries in Asia.
4. Improve the Environment for Foreign Nationals!
To add “magnetic power” to Tokyo to attract people and companies from around the world, it is necessary to improve the environment for foreigners. It has been pointed out that Tokyo still lags behind in terms of providing English and multilingual services and that it should improve the environment for foreigners in terms of healthcare and education. Efforts to address these issues include increasing the number of international schools and medical institutions staffed with foreign doctors, the installation of multilingual public transportation signage, and the simplification and streamlining of immigration procedures for foreign residents in Japan.
We should take every possible policy measure to enhance the global competitiveness of Tokyo to attract people and companies from around the world. This will generate economic effects not only within Tokyo but also in Narita, Yokohama, and Ibaraki, which serve as gateways to Tokyo, as well as throughout surrounding prefectures that will form industrial clusters, leading to economic growth in the Greater Tokyo area with Tokyo at the center. These efforts should also be directed at promoting competition among large cities and among core cities not only within the Tokyo metropolitan area but also the metropolitan areas of Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka, and other urban areas in order to eventually achieve the growth of Japan as a whole.