Is Japan's capital a model for post-growth happiness more than pro-growth dynamism?
Tokyo isn't just the biggest city in the world. It's the biggest city in the history of the world. The super-mega-troprolis is home to more than 35 million people (in other words: California). The city proper holds more like 12 million, which is closer to the size of New York.
Tokyo is so large, it makes more sense to think of it as a country. In 2008, national figures put the city's GDP between Korea and the Netherlands, and just behind Canada.Twenty years ago ago, Tokyo would have been considerably higher on the list, but two lost and half-lost decades in between -- the outcome of a massive housing bubble from which the stock market has never recovered -- have dulled Japan's growt. In 1990, the Tokyo Stock Exchange accounted for 60 percent of the world stock market value. Today, its market value is about as large as the Nasdaq.
It is a matter of inevitability that any metropolitan area with 30+ million people living in dense proximity to one another will have one heck of an economy. The mere services required to keep the nation-sized metro humming are enough to make Tokyo rank as a global hub. Despite being one of the most expensive cities in the world, Tokyo is still the city of choice for large corporations in Japan. More Fortune Global 500 companies are based in Tokyo than any other major city.