In his new book Arbitrary Lines, Nolan Gray points out that Tokyo is more affordable than many U.S. cities because its zoning policies are less restrictive.
One common counterargument is that because Tokyo is a population-losing city in a population-losing city, it simply lacks the demand to have high housing prices, and is thus more comparable to the low-cost Rust Belt than to high-cost cities like New York.
But a short look at my World Almanac suggests otherwise. On page 730, it lists the world’s largest urban areas. It shows that between 2000 and 2021 , Tokyo actually grew by 8.4 percent. By contrast, metropolitan New York-Newark grew by 5.7 percent, and Los Angeles by 5.6 percent. In other words, Tokyo’s population actually grew more rapidly than high-cost U.S. cities.