Governor Yoichi Masuzoe vowed to redeem Tokyo’s former glory as the central business hub in the region ahead of the 2020 Olympics.

The new Tokyo chief on Monday unveiled plans to take back its “top city in the world” title from Singapore, including aggressive measures to open the metropolis to foreign talent in a bid to spur growth.

Due to strict immigration laws, Tokyo has been outranked by Singapore as a financial center due to its relatively lax policies for allowing skilled foreign workers to enter the city state.

“We have to import many intelligent people from abroad. We badly need young talented persons,” Masuzoe said at a press conference for foreign media.

Masuzoe promised to work with the central government to relax labor regulations as part of a wider push to make Tokyo the vibrant finance hub it once was. He wants to turn Tokyo into a “special zone for global innovation” and proposed measures to create a center for drug development and a suitable business climate to support company start-ups.

He claims that Tokyo will transform itself into a leading foreigner-friendly center for global business and a outstanding regional healthcare center.

“I will bring the lead back to Tokyo by 2020” when the capital hosts the summer Olympic Games, Masuzoe pledged.

Since coming into power in February, Masuzoe has pushed for regaining the “first city in the world” rank. The move comes from a general view in Japan that Tokyo has lost its appeal as an international business center after two decades of economic stagnation and because of outdated laws that are unable to keep up with rapid globalization.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image:  Sebra /