The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 19 April 2016

Image: Getty Images

All in a day’s work

Within hours of the earthquakes that rattled buildings and nerves in Kumamoto last week, Japan’s military – the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) – had sent troops to the hard-hit southwestern prefecture. About 25,000 troops are now searching for survivors by air and on foot, setting up tents for evacuees and cooking rice at shelters. It’s hard to overstate the SDF’s disaster-relief activities: more than 20,000 deployments since the early 1950s. It happens so often that the military is now primarily viewed at home as a disaster-relief unit. A Cabinet Office annual survey in 2015 found that 81.9 per cent of respondents thought the military’s reason for existence was disaster-response rather than defending the country’s borders.

Image: IMEX

Fair play

A trade show can often be an insular talking shop where industry insiders chatter among themselves about the issues and hot topics affecting their businesses (but few people besides). Imex in Frankfurt, which opens to the public today, takes this notion to extremes: it is one of the world’s leading events for planners of events, a vast meeting for those in the business of meetings. About 3,500 exhibitors and 9,000 visitors are due to attend, from hotel operators selling their conference suites to cities plugging their credentials as business-event destinations to the inevitable events organisers. Stuart Ayres – New South Wales minister for trade, tourism and major events – is the keynote speaker this year and will be sharing his insights into Sydney’s success as a destination for so-called “incentive travel”. Intrigued? Make your way to Hall 8 of the Frankfurt Messe.

Image: Doug Mulvaney

Thai transport

It seems Thailand’s push to generate much-needed capital through transport infrastructure is off to a good start. A new section of Bangkok’s MRT network, which runs new Japanese-made trains, has already brought a swathe of fresh developments to north Bangkok. And it’s not the only place seeing growth: the expanding public-transport network in the capital has encouraged developers to build shopping precincts and quality condominiums in previously underdeveloped areas, which has given a real boost to the property market. Sansiri, one of the largest property developers in Thailand, is betting on this network to entice investment, teaming up with Bangkok’s Skytrain owner to construct $2.9bn (€2.5bn) worth of projects along its key stops.

Image: Pirelli HangarBicocca/OSGEMEOS/Sha Ribeiro

Cultural crossroads?

Street art has proven a controversial topic in Italy, where many local governments have opposed it, but a new exhibition could foster fresh appreciation. Milan’s Pirelli HangarBicocca arts centre, one of the largest contemporary-art spaces in Europe, is unveiling “Efêmero” this Wednesday: the painting by Brazilian street-artist twins Osgemeos will wrap around the walls of its headquarters, covering 1,000 sq m. The painting evokes the carriage of a train and pays homage to the original site of HangarBicocca, a former factory for the construction of locomotives. The project is the first effort of Outside the Cube, a three-year programme devoted to urban art, which involves innovative approaches with a series of international artistic partnerships.

From Monocle 24

Image: Matt Brown

Tall Stories 2: Queen Square

The starting point for this week’s Tall Stories is a tiny square of metal screwed on to concrete in London’s Queen Square. It’s all about memory and healing, an explosion echoing across 101 years. Tall Stories is a weekly feature brought to you by the team behind The Urbanist.

From Monocle Films

How to Make a Nation: A Monocle Guide

How to Make a Nation: A Monocle Guide reveals all you need to know to make a happy, vibrant and successful nation. It’s a book that delivers inspiration to the reader, whether you are a new citizen or a freshly elected PM. Monocle Films takes talks to the editors of the book and leafs through its pages. Available to order now at The Monocle Shop.

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