GREATER TOKYO

Tokyo’s new female governor will run the biggest city-economy in the world

An Arabic-speaking former news anchor will be the first woman to run the world’s biggest city-economy.

Yuriko Koike, also a former defense minister, was elected on Sunday (July 31) as Tokyo’s governor after her predecessor resigned last month over improper use of funds. In her new role, Koike, 64, will govern over almost 14 million people in Tokyo proper, though the whole wider metropolitan area, which extends to neighboring prefectures like Chiba and Kanagawa, includes some 37 million people—larger than Canada’s population. Greater New York, which encompasses parts of New Jersey and Connecticut, for example, only has around 20 million inhabitants in comparison.

In economic terms, the Greater Tokyo area is bigger by GDP than all but 11 countries in the world, including Australia and South Korea. The Osaka-Kobe metropolitan area in Japan’s Kansai region is also among the top 10 biggest metropolitan economies in the world, according to data compiled by the Brookings Institution.

No discussion of Tokyo’s sheer size and density can go without a look at its famously busy transportation network. Without even including the host of private rail networks and subway operators, just the state-owned JR East Japan’s rail system carries 3.3 billion people a year, according to Tokyo government data.

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