June 11, 2014 4:41 am JST

Tokyo needs revamp to raise profile in Asia: white paper

TOKYO -- The Japanese capital is less friendly to business and other activity than other Asian cities, and more efforts are needed to make it more appealing, the land ministry said in a white paper released on Tuesday.

     Japan is home to the Asian headquarters of 113 foreign companies, ranking No. 4 in Asia after Singapore, China and Hong Kong, according to the fiscal 2013 white paper on greater Tokyo.

     In 2011, Tokyo hosted 153 international conferences, the third most in Asia, but this pales against No. 1 Singapore's more than 900. No. 2 Seoul hosted 232. Singapore has risen sharply over the past decade, leaving others in the dust.

     Singapore has been actively courting international conferences and exhibitions, sharpening its competitive edge. In 2010, it established two massive all-inclusive resorts that offer conference facilities, exhibit halls, hotels and casinos.

     Tokyo is still among the world's foremost metropolises, but its relative profile is declining.

     In May, the government designated strategic special deregulation zones including nine Tokyo wards, Kanagawa Prefecture and Narita in Chiba Prefecture. The white paper highlighted the need to make it easier for foreign companies to set up Japanese units in such zones, as part of broader efforts to attract more people and money to Japan.

     Enhancing disaster readiness, including earthquake resistance and renovations of aging infrastructure and buildings, are also urgent tasks. Many office buildings in central Tokyo are more than 40 years old and built on small lots. To improve their ability to withstand disasters and increase their appeal, the paper suggested consolidating lots.