TOKYO - For the 10th year running, Singapore placed fifth out of 44 cities - and second in Asia behind Tokyo - in the Global Power City Index released on Thursday (Oct 18).
The index, which has been published since 2008, ranks major cities around the world by their level of "magnetism" across six categories - economy, research and development, cultural interaction, liveability, environment and accessibility - which are scored using 70 measures from cost of living to water quality.
Professor Emeritus Hiroo Ishikawa of Meiji University, in noting that Asian cities are making strides across different areas, said Tokyo's position as the top Asian city was shaky.
"Although Tokyo still leads among Asian cities, it has yet to establish a large margin (like New York has in North America)," said Prof Ishikawa, who is also executive director of the Mori Memorial Foundation think-tank, which published the report. "There are cities that are making strengths in areas which Tokyo has been weak in."
He noted that Singapore, for example, is attractive for its low corporate tax rate of 17 per cent, compared to Tokyo's 29.7 per cent. Singapore, too, has a more conducive environment for start-ups and is way ahead of Tokyo in ICT (information and communications technology) readiness.
The top five in this year's league table, which was peer reviewed by Professor Heng Chye Kiang of the National University of Singapore's School of Design and Environment, remains unchanged: London, New York, Tokyo, Paris, and Singapore.
Amsterdam and Seoul swapped places to rank sixth and seventh respectively, while Berlin, Hong Kong and Sydney rounded up the top 10.
The report has been referred to by the Japanese government to plan Cabinet strategy, as well as internationally by organisations such as the World Economic Forum.
Singapore's strengths, the report said, were its market attractiveness, trend-setting potential and opportunities for international interaction, noting that the city had hosted the historic United States-North Korea summit in June.
Singapore came in tops in employee life satisfaction, and boasted the lowest political, economic and business risk, best academic performance in maths and science, and the most international conferences.
It also did well in inbound tourism (third), ICT readiness (third), public transportation coverage and punctuality (fourth), and start-up environment (fourth in the world and top in Asia).
"Improvements in the number of foreign visitors and high scores in the number of foreign residents have established Singapore as Asia's leading international business hub," the report said.
But Singapore did not do as well in such measures as total working hours (25th), with Tokyo leapfrogging over it as it improved from 34th to 22nd place. Prof Ishikawa gave credit to the positive impact of work-style reform laws passed in Japan this year.
Singapore also fared poorly in areas such as social freedom and equality (31st), and cost of living (40th).