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Economy

Tokyo leads Asia in urban appeal, but trails London and New York

While still behind in cultural measures, Japanese capital boosted by improved economy

Tokyo won the distinction as the most attractive city in Asia, and third most appealing in the world.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Tokyo maintained its status as the top city in Asia and lagged only London and New York in the latest ranking of attractive cities by a private think tank, but the two leaders pulled further ahead of the Japanese capital due to their cultural and business appeal.

Tokyo's score climbed 14.5 points this year to a total of 1,462, as rated by the Mori Memorial Foundation's Institute for Urban Strategies. The Tokyo-based group ranked the Asian leader ahead of fifth-place Singapore, with Seoul following in seventh place, Hong Kong in ninth and Sydney in 10th.

The Japanese city's profile rose in terms of better working hours due to workplace reforms as well as the recovering economy. Tokyo ranked third worldwide last year as well.

Beijing dropped from 13th place to 23rd, while Shanghai tumbled 11 spots to 26th. Both Chinese cities appeared to suffer from the changes in indicators for the environment. Beijing and Shanghai also are locked in tight races with other urban centers around the world, which leads to large swings in their rankings.

The ranking scored 44 major global cities according to 70 indicators in six broad fields -- such as livability, environment and accessibility.

The British capital added 25.3 points to garner a score of 1,692.3. The institute gave London rave reviews for cultural interaction, a view supported by the city's historical assets and large immigrant population.

London took the crown for a seventh consecutive year, defying concerns that the British exit from the European Union would weaken the city's magnetism. But the score may suffer if Brexit -- slated to become formalized in March -- results in limited movement of people and goods.

Runner-up New York offers a competitive business environment welcoming to startups, as well as relatively low corporate taxes. America's largest metropolis scored 1,565.3, jumping by 84 points in a year.

But "Tokyo is falling behind in cultural interaction," said Hiroo Ichikawa, executive director of the foundation. The Japanese capital ranked fourth in that category behind the two leading cities and Paris. Tokyo's cultural score of 226.3 points trails London by 145.5 points and New York by 50.5.

Hosting the Olympics in 2020 could give Tokyo a boost. "Whether or not the increase in foreign tourists will lead to investments is key," Ichikawa said. Other reforms, such as relaxed regulations in national strategic zones, should lift Tokyo's allure, too.

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