Tokyo Aims to Regain Status as Asia’s Financial Center by 2020

Yoichi Masuzoe
Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Tokyo is aiming to wrestle back its status as Asia’s financial hub from Singapore by 2020, Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe said.

“Asia’s mecca isn’t Singapore, but Tokyo,” Masuzoe said Tuesday at a seminar hosted by Bloomberg in Japan’s capital. “Tokyo is far more dynamic and attractive.”

Masuzoe, 66, sees the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as “the best and last opportunity” for Japan’s revival. Two decades of deflation sapped the nation’s economic vitality and Tokyo lost much of its financial talent, he said.

“We want to recruit financial professionals from abroad, including Wall Street,” Masuzoe said. “We can’t nurture talent immediately within Japan.”

Speaking at the same event, Shigeru Ishiba, the minister of regional revitalization, said Tokyo’s long-term prosperity hinges on the provinces, which historically supplied the capital with young migrants.

The labor shortage is more severe in the regions, said Ishiba, 58. “It’s impossible that Tokyo alone will thrive.”

Ishiba is tasked with easing a decline in Japan’s population, which peaked in 2008 at about 128 million. He said that Japan is aiming to keep the figure above 100 million through 2060.

Over the shorter term, the government aims to create 300,000 jobs in regional areas for young people and to stop a net population inflow into Tokyo by 2020, according to a plan released in December.

“It’s not that regions don’t have jobs. There’s more than one job opening for every application,” Ishiba said. “But we need to boost the number of stable and high-paying jobs.”

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