New York continues to rank first among 35 top global cities ranked by the Mori Memorial Foundation in Tokyo. According to their Global Power City Index 2011, London ranks an extremely close second, with Paris, Tokyo, and Singapore rounding out the top five.

Speaking before an audience of ULI members at the Institute’s 2011 Fall Meeting in Los Angeles, Takayuki Kubo, senior researcher at Mori Memorial, said the ranking is based on six criteria: economy, research and development, cultural interaction, livability, environment, and accessibility (such as proximity to an international airport).

Tokyo is the leading city in Asia, Kubo noted. It ranks first for its economy, although going forward that will be tempered by the effects of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami in March.

Panelists also discussed how Tokyo is recovering from the earthquake, centered some 200 miles (320 km) away.  

Although Tokyo had minimal damage to buildings, Kubo said that electricity outages following the earthquake took out of commission rail lines that help move 10 million commuters into and out of the city each day. People had no choice but to stay at their workplace or to walk one to  six hours to get home that evening. “This had never happened before, and this became a good lesson to us,” Kubo said. He added that the number of bicycle commuters in Tokyo has been increasing dramatically since the disaster.

Hiroo Mori, senior managing director of Mori Building Co., headquartered in Tokyo, discussed infrastructure changes that government authorities are already planning, such as construction of elastic gas pipelines, which would resist earthquake damage. And the need for open space in the city, which could allow for temporary shelter and distribution of services, is gaining attention. “Open space is as important as developed space in a disaster,” Mori noted.