Japan’s Tokyo-Yokohama region is the riskiest place in the world to do business, in terms of the potential human and economic costs of a possible natural catastrophe, a study found on Wednesday.
The study, by reinsurer Swiss Re, ranked 616 cities around the world based on the exposure of their population and economy to floods, storms, storm surges, earthquakes or tsunamis.
Manila in the Philippines and the Pearl River Delta in China came second and third in the list of riskiest urban areas after Tokyo, in terms of the number of people exposed to natural catastrophes, while Los Angeles was the highest ranking metropolis outside of Asia, in ninth place.
Swiss Re’s analysis is based on its risk profiles for regions, coupled with population data to rank cities according to the number of people potentially affected.
The study is part of efforts by the company to analyze the risk of operating in the world’s metropolitan areas, which it says are underexplored due to a lack of detailed hazard information and poor data quality.
Japan, situated on the “Ring of Fire” arc of volcanoes and oceanic trenches that partly encircles the Pacific Basin, accounts for about 20 percent of the world’s earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.
Ranked by the number of working days that could be lost in the aftermath of a natural disaster, the Japanese conurbations of Osaka-Kobe and Nagoya followed Tokyo, in second and third place, respectively.
Natural catastrophes and man-made disasters cost 14,000 lives in 2012 and caused $186 billion in damage, Swiss Re said in March, more than a third of it from Superstorm Sandy, which devastated parts of the U.S. East Coast in October.