New York and Tokyo: Comparison of SWOT Results


Results attained through creating SWOT matrices for cities of New York and Tokyo had shown us weak and strong points of both cities. In this assignment, their economic, societal, and environmental status and problems will be compared and discussed. The results of this comparison will show which city is more equipped to solve its modern and future problems and can sustain its population and status.

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Economy Factor

An economy is one of the factors that show the prosperity of a subject, be it city, state, or country. Both reviewed cities are major economic centers of their respective regions, serving as both the industrial and trading hubs (Sassen 19). However, some differences set New York and Tokyo aside.

Tokyo, being the capital of Japan, is an international financing center, its stock exchange being one of the world’s biggest three (Sassen 27). It is also the most populous metropolitan area in the world with the strongest economy, and it has economic and cultural ties with the most economically important cities, such as Moscow, New York, etc. (Sassen 28). Besides that, Tokyo is also an industrial center, with the light industry being the most prevalent. As such, its economic situation looks promising and capable of facing modern and future challenges.

However, Tokyo also suffers from several serious economic problems. The first one is that it is dependent on international trade. While it has close ties to the global trading spots, it also suffers greater backlashes if there is a crisis, such as a crisis of 2008. In addition to that, while Tokyo Metropolis has the largest population in the world, it also has the most expensive living costs associated, lessening the profit margin of its inhabitants (Sassen 30).

That population is also is at an average age of 46 years, thus making it an aging population which reduces the amount of available workforce. All of that is affected by Japan’s public debt that is approaching ten trillion dollars, which, while not an immediate problem, could become a significant one in the near-decade.

In turn, New York, while not the capital of the United States, is still on par with the economic importance of Tokyo. It is also a vast and densely populated metropolitan area that is a trading and financial hub. As such, it is pretty similar to Tokyo in terms of the financial sector, but it does not have that same industrial potential. At the same time, it faces fewer challenges and problems than Tokyo while having more advantages.

First, while New York has increased economic growth in comparison to similar cities of the world, it is even more dependent on the global financial situation, which was proved in 2008, when the banking crisis hit it hard (Sassen 46). Second, while it has a lower population than Tokyo Metropolis, it has a higher unemployment rate of 4% and rising (Sassen 46). That, in turn, leads to increased criminal activity and higher spending on law enforcement, and New York’s spending on it is the highest in the United States. In addition to that, the USA has even more substantial public debt than Japan, as it approaches thirteen trillion dollars.

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While, like Tokyo, it is not a problem in the immediate future, it is a potential threat to the city’s economic stability in the nearest decades. Still, concerning the economy, New York has an advantage over Tokyo, as it is a commercial hub of a superpower with broader economic potential.

Social and Urban Factors

Regarding social strengths and drawbacks, Tokyo, as any highly populated city, has both. It is the most urbanized area in Japan, with a population of over thirteen million. That, along with a highly developed industrial complex, makes it an industrial powerhouse in the region. In addition to that, its population is continuously increasing due to high migration, allowing for a fresh flow of workforce and expansion of local businesses (Sassen 31).

At the same time, overpopulation in Tokyo, along with an infrastructure unsuitable for that due to the poor urban development planning, is a significant problem for the locals (Sawada and Yoshito 6). Sewage systems and services are unprepared for an influx of immigrants, leading to delays in providing required services (Sawada and Yoshito 6). In addition to that, the aging population leads to the shortage of workforce and housing problems, as new inhabitants are unable to compensate for the retiring elderly. That, in turn, leads to the diminishing of economic growth. Later years have shown that Tokyo is unable to address those issues properly, and unless its authorities manage to find a solution, it may lead to a workforce crisis later on.

New York, on the other hand, is less populated, and its growth is more planned, so it does not have as many problems on that front. Besides that, it has an efficient water supply plant and a dedicated and well-funded police force. New York also faces a stream of immigrants, adding to its potential economic growth.

However, as it does not have a growing industrial sector similar to Tokyo, this leads to the problem of unemployment. Its level has reached 4% of the population and is rising (Sassen 48). In addition to that, New York police force funding detracts from possible social and infrastructure budgets. There is also a problem of terrorism, which has been an issue since September 11, 2001. While the probability of a successful attack is low, it could be enough to incite panic in the population and may lead to greater potential harm and risk of similar attacks. Still, in comparison to Tokyo, New York has fewer social and urban issues and can deal with them, mitigating their potential harm in the future.

Natural and Ecological Issues

Concerning ecological issues, both cities have significant problems. Tokyo, as well as most of Japan, is located over a tectonic fault line. That means that there is a constant danger of earthquakes, tsunami, and ensuing floods. Still, as those problems are common dangers for the city, its buildings are constructed to withstand the shocks, it has emergency shelters, and drills are conducted through the population to lessen the potential damages.

However, there is a pollution problem in the metropolis area. As it stands, air, water, and ground pollution are at high levels, affecting the health of a population (Sawada and Yoshito 4). It is also a growing issue, though authorities are running several environmental programs to lessen them and to diminish the damage. As such, modern Tokyo, while experiencing natural and environmental issues, is capable of mitigating their impact.

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New York, on the other hand, deals with fewer problems of that nature. However, they have the potential to become a severe danger shortly. Such a potential threat is possible flooding, possibly caused by climate changes (Kremer et al. 59). That could affect buildings, infrastructure, wetlands, and water supplies, and, unlike Tokyo, New York is incapable of solving those problems should they arise today. Besides that, there is a pollution problem that is prevalent in any densely populated city. Like Tokyo, local authorities run environmental programs to mitigate the damage (Kremer et al. 60). As such, New York, while not in immediate danger, can suffer environmental problems later on.


As a result of this summary, we can see that each of the reviewed cities struggles with its problems. While Tokyo and New York can handle the short-term ones, today, they have no way of dealing with the long-term ones. In the case of Tokyo, such problems are demographic and following economic issues, and in the case of New York, those are environmental and potential climate changes. Still, in the end, New York seems more adaptable and more resilient out of two, as its authorities have more control over its problems. In addition to that, its economic standing is better than that of Tokyo, being the second capital of a superpower.

Works Cited

Kremer, Peleg, et al. “The value of urban ecosystem services in New York City: A spatially explicit multicriteria analysis of landscape scale valuation scenarios.” Environmental Science & Policy, vol. 62, 2016, pp. 57-68.

Sassen, Saskia. Cities in a World Economy. 5th ed., SAGE Publications, 2018.

Sawada, Yasuke, and Yoshito Takasaki. “Natural Disaster, Poverty, and Development: An Introduction.” World Development, vol. 94, 2017, pp. 2-15.

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