Study Finds Tokyo the City Most Susceptible to Natural Disasters

Tokyo, once the most expensive city in the world, now holds the top spot of Swiss Re’s ranking of the riskiest cities in the world, painting a grim picture for the metropolis of 13 million people.

According to a study by leading global reinsurer Swiss Re, the Tokyo-Yokohama region is the riskiest place in the world to do business, in terms of the potential human and economic costs of a possible natural disaster.

Of Tokyo’s 37 million inhabitants, 29 million live under the threat of a major earthquake, according to the report, which was released last year.
Manila in the Philippines and the Pearl River Delta in China came second and third in the list of riskiest urban areas after Tokyo, in terms of people exposed to natural catastrophes. Los Angeles in California placed ninth, the highest ranking metropolis outside of Asia. The study assessed 616 different cities around the world.

Japan is also the country most exposed to tsunami risk. The country is situated on the “Ring of Fire” arc of volcanoes and oceanic trenches, which accounts for about 20 percent of the world’s earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.

The Osaka-Kobe region also made it to the list. Ranking at 4th place, the region’s 14.6 million people are vulnerable to earthquakes, such as the one that killed thousands of people in 1995. Risks of river flooding from brutal storms and storm surges from heavy winds can also hit the region.

Singapore outranked Tokyo in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s ranking of the world’s most expensive cities, which came as a relief to denizens of one of the largest metropolis.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image: “Earthquake evacuation March 2011” by Shibuya246/Flickr

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