With the Tokyo municipal elections coming up on Sunday, it is perhaps worthwhile to take a look at what Tokyo is.
First of all, it is a prefecture, not a city. Calling what will happen on Sunday municipal elections is accurate in so far as most of the population lives in what we in our imagination think is a city and its suburbs. The largest part of the main body of the Tokyo Metropolitan District is paved-over and built-over former alluvial basins and low uplands. However, the TMD has a long tail reaching 60 kilometers into the interior, into the spine of mountains at the center of the country, where settlement huddles along streambeds at the base of deep valleys cloaked in plantations of evergreens. The tallest mountain in the TMD, Kumotoriyama, is a none-too-shabby 2017 meters high, and it is surrounded by places where you really can get lost or attacked by bears.
Second, the TMD would make pretty good country, if independent. With its 12,688,000 inhabitants (10,000,000 of whom are eligible to vote on Sunday) it would be the 67th largest country by population, in between Mali and in Zimbabwe. By GDP, on an exchange rate basis, it would rank among the world’s top 25 economies, on a par with Belgium, Switzerland and Sweden. In terms of headquarters of Fortune Global 500 companies, it would rank second, behind only the United States.
(to be continued)