The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 1 October 2015

Image: Alamy

Vote of confidence?

With Japan’s voting age set to drop from 20 to 18, there will be an extra 2.4 million voters participating in next summer’s Upper House election. Legislation that passed in June marked the first lowering of the voting age since 1945, when it dropped from 25 to 20. Now the Japanese government is preparing the country’s newly enfranchised population with a booklet that outlines what it means to vote, how an election works and what politicians do. It also has ideas for role-play and discussions at school; teachers will be advised on how to guide children without imposing their own political views. And there will be no excuses for not seeing the booklet: 3.7 million copies will be distributed to senior high-school students.

Image: Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet

Up in the air

India’s new order with Boeing, which will see the world’s largest democracy purchase 22 Apache attack helicopters and 15 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, is not a straightforward off-the-shelf deal. Boeing, which has an Indian operation, hopes that parts of both helicopters will be manufactured inside the country. This chimes well with the Modi government’s “Make in India” programme. However, India is not the only nation in the region boosting its air defences. In August, Pakistan signed an agreement with Russia to purchase four of its Mi-35 helicopters, while Bell Helicopter will also provide up to 35 new helicopters for Pakistan by 2018 under a deal agreed with the US.

Image: Getty Images

Drone on

We were promised flying cars but instead we got drones – a whole lot of them. The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) claims that up to one million will be sold domestically leading up to the holiday season. The prospect of an army of amateurs unwrapping UAVs under the Christmas tree and invading the US’s airspace has frightened everyone from commercial pilots and security officials to privacy advocates. The FAA hopes to spread the safety gospel by training salespeople at US retailer Walmart. And if you thought drones were still a niche product for the super rich, think again: Walmart carries 19 models online. Opening price? $19.99.

Image: Michael Sinclair

Spreading the word

A constant worry for many media brands is the challenge of distributing the beautiful journals and magazines that they produce. There are pockets of newsstand strength but across markets in general there’s an alarming lack of effort to reinvent the distribution sector. The whole chain needs to be re-evaluated; it’s not just about the challenges of digital or the demise of postal services. But a number of media companies aren’t even engaging in the conversation, let alone zeroing in on critical issues. “There’s no understanding about what these brands mean and represent to the readers,” says publishing consultant and commentator Ian Birch. “If ever there was an unmet need, it’s about how we reinvent the distribution model.” At Monocle we couldn’t agree more and that’s why, in our usual style, we’re doing something about it. Keep an eye on monocle.com to see exactly what.

From Monocle Films

The Art of War

When his artworks of war-torn Afghanistan were shown at the Imperial War Museum North earlier this year, artist and illustrator George Butler received a visit from Monocle films. His ink-and-watercolour scenes bring a new depth of reportage that is more often the preserve of combat photographers.

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