The Tokyo region is Japan's leading industrial center, with a highly diversified manufacturing base. Heavy industries are concentrated in Chiba, Kawasaki, and Yokohama, while Tokyo proper is strongly inclined toward light industry, including book printing and the production of electronic equipment.

More significantly, perhaps, Tokyo is Japan's management and finance center. Corporations with headquarters or branches or production sites in other parts of the country often have large offices in Tokyo, Marunouchi being the location of many of these. The close relationship between government and business in Japan makes a Tokyo location advantageous if not necessary.

To the north of Marunouchi is Otemachi, where Japan's leading financial institutions and insurance companies are located. Otemachi is also home to NTT, the communications giant. Of course, Tokyo is also the site of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, located in Kabutocho.

Tokyo was particularly affected by an economic boom in Japan in the 1980s when the country emerged as a global financial center rivaling Europe and the United States. The economic upswing led to speculation, and especially to real estate speculation. Land prices soared at the time, as did the value of the yen. The economy leveled out by the early 1990s, but Tokyo real estate remained the most expensive in Japan and held a similar rank on a global scale.

In the latter half of the 1990s, Tokyo was again affected by the national economy—only this time it was not an economic boom. In 1999 Japan began a tentative recovery from its longest and most severe recession since the end of World War II.