Tokyo named world’s safest city, Amsterdam tops Europe ranking

Pedestrians at a ‘scramble crossing’ in Shibuya shopping district, Tokyo, which has been designated the world’s safest city. (Reuters)
Updated 29 August 2019

Tokyo named world’s safest city, Amsterdam tops Europe ranking

  • Singapore took second place after Japan’s capital while another Japanese metropolis, Osaka, came third
  • Two European cities made it into the top 10, with the Dutch capital Amsterdam in fourth place while Denmark’s Copenhagen came eighth

LONDON: Tokyo was named the world’s safest city on Thursday by the Economist Intelligence Unit, in an index ranking cities’ ability to handle everything from climate disasters to cyberattacks.
Singapore took second place after Japan’s capital while another Japanese metropolis, Osaka, came third — the same top three as the two previous Safe Cities Indexes of 2015 and 2017.
This year the index of 60 cities aimed to capture the concept of “urban resilience,” which is the ability of cities to absorb and bounce back from shocks, researchers said.
This concept has increasingly steered urban safety planning during the last decade, as policymakers worry about the impacts of climate change, including heat stress and flooding.
The index assessed four types of safety: digital, infrastructure, health and personal security.
Asia-Pacific dominated the top 10, as in previous years, with six cities, including Australia’s Sydney in fifth place, South Korea’s Seoul in eighth and Australia’s Melbourne in 10th.
Two European and two North American cities made it into the top 10, with the Dutch capital Amsterdam in fourth place while Denmark’s Copenhagen came eighth. Canada’s Toronto came sixth, and the US capital, Washington D.C., seventh.
The safest cities scored highly on access to high-quality health care, dedicated cyber-security teams, community-based police patrols and good disaster planning, researchers said.
“The research highlights how different types of safety are thoroughly intertwined,” said Naka Kondo, the report’s Tokyo-based editor.
While European cities performed well in the area of health, they struggled with digital security, in terms of citizens’ ability to freely use the Internet and other digital channels without fear of privacy violations or identity theft.
Top-ranking cities for digital security scored high on citizen awareness of digital threats and dedicated cyber-security teams, leading to low levels of infection by computer viruses and malware.
“London is the only European city in the top 10 in this category,” said Irene Mia, global editorial director of the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Nigeria’s Lagos, Venezuela’s Caracas, Myanmar’s Yangon, Pakistan’s Karachi and Bangladesh’s Dhaka were the world’s five least safe cities, according to the index.


Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

Updated 21 January 2020

Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

  • Ex-president says Taliban offer to reduce violence a ‘major development’

KABUL: Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has urged President Ashraf Ghani to drop the pre-condition of cease-fire to begin talks with the Taliban amid high hope that the US and Taliban delegates will sign a deal following more than a year of secret discussions.

Speaking in an interview with BBC local service, Karzai said the government “should not block intra-Afghan dialogue under the pretext of cease-fire.” He said the Taliban offer for reduction in violence as the group says is nearing to ink the deal with American diplomats in Qatar, was a “major development.”

He said Ghani needed to accept the Taliban offer.

Ghani says truce is a must ahead of starting any negotiations with the Taliban calling reduction in violence a general term and arguing that such a call by the Taliban political leaders in Qatar only goes to show that they have control over field commanders back in Afghanistan.

The Taliban say the group will announce truce when the intra-Afghan dialogue begins which will happen after Washington sets timetable for withdrawal of the troops.

Washington at least on one occasion called off the talks with the Taliban in Qatar due to Taliban attacks back in Afghanistan as discussions continued in Qatar despite none of the warring sides having committed to halt offensives during the talks.

Ghani’s government has been sidelined from all rounds of talks between the Taliban delegates and US diplomats led by Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar. There has also been rift between Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who shares power with the president in the National Unity Government, on the pre-condition of cease-fire.

Unlike Ghani, Abdullah is happy with reduction of violence. Talking in a meeting of council of ministers, Abdullah on Monday indirectly said Ghani had taken the peace process in his monopoly.

 “Peace is not one person’s monopoly, one person’s wish — but it is a collective desire, and the people of Afghanistan have the right to take a position regarding the peace process,” said Abdullah.