Tokyo is apparently the world’s safest city, unlike Southeast Asian capitals
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Tokyo is apparently the world’s safest city, unlike Southeast Asian capitals

JAPAN’s ultramodern, megacity capital Tokyo has been named the safest city in the world by a newly released index from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

The EIU’s Safe Cities Index 2017 entitled Security in a rapidly urbanising world ranked 60 world cities across 49 indicators regarding digital, health, infrastructure and personal security. Tokyo’s top spot is credit to the city’s high ratings in digital security and health security.

Interestingly, Asian cities dominated both the top and bottom ten of the index for their respective safety ratings. A number of cities in the Asia-Pacific were ranked even worse in terms of security than far more violent capitals in South America, Africa and the Middle East.

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Source: Economist Intelligence Unit

Southeast Asian city-state Singapore was the regional outlier coming in at second place, followed by another Japanese city Osaka – while large cities in the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Burma (Myanmar) fared poorly.

The EIU notes that security is “closely linked to wealth” and that in many cities around the world, “security is falling rather than rising.”

The top three cities in the index were unchanged from the 2015 ranking. Australia’s largest cities Melbourne and Sydney are ranked 5th and 7th, respectively. Hong Kong is at number 9.

Pakistan’s Karachi meanwhile came 60th overall, the main reason being “it experiences by far the most frequent and most severe terrorist attacks.”

Indonesia’s capital Jakarta was ranked last in 2015 but was pushed out of the wooden spoon position by Burma’s largest city Yangon and Bangladeshi capital Dhaka.


Vendors sell food on the street in downtown Yangon, Burma, 13 February 2017. Source: Phuong D. Nguyen / Shutterstock

At number 31, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia was the “top ranked city from a developing country” just ahead of Beijing and Shanghai. Seoul, South Korea was ranked 14 and Taipei, Taiwan at 22.

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The EIU notes that “more cities are devoting resources to digital security” but that there were limitations in terms of resources – financial, human and political. Jakarta remains ranked last in terms of digital security.

According to the authors of the report, there were 31 megacities – those with more than 10 million inhabitants – in 2016. There are expected to be more than 40 megacities worldwide by 2030.

Ninety percent of urbanisation that has occurred since the initial Safe Cities report in 2015 has done so in developing countries.

“Cities can start with identifiying the problems and understanding how they’ve been solved elsewhere,” argued the EIU.