The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 9 August 2016

Image: Getty Images

Admin dynasty

With Japan’s 82-year-old Emperor Akihito hinting in a rare public address that he’s ready to abdicate, the government is expected to press ahead with legal revisions that will allow him to do so. Another change to consider is Japan’s official calendar, known as issei-ichigen (gengo, for short), which is based on the reign of the emperor. Instead of 2016, it’s Heisei 28 (Heisei means “achieving peace”) in the island country, signifying Emperor Akihito’s 28th year on the Chrysanthemum Throne. Gengo is standard for all public records – drivers’ licences, health-insurance cards and tax forms – but it’s also on commuter-train passes and zoo memberships. The moment 56-year-old Crown Prince Naruhito becomes emperor, Heisei would end and a new yet-to-be-named era would begin. That’s a fair few documents, stationery, ID cards and computer files that will need revising.

Image: PA Images

Pivotal talks

There are many ways to interpret Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Russia today. Analysts posit a pivot to the East in Turkey’s foreign policy and see the trip as a bold statement to the West, which Ankara feels hasn’t quite congratulated it enough since its civilians foiled a military coup. But that rests on the idea that Turkey believes it has nothing to lose in its defiant tone. When Erdogan meets Russian president Vladimir Putin they will almost certainly discuss Turkish Stream, a proposed gas pipeline from Russia that would turn Turkey into an energy hub for Europe. Such a plan demands cordial relations and while Erdogan has banged the lectern about reinstating the death penalty in recent weeks, thoughts of the economy may inspire a more pragmatic turn.

Image: PA Images

Trailing behind

The US loves game time: according to pollster Gallup about 60 per cent of American citizens describe themselves as sports fans, a boon for advertisers and networks alike. So it is perhaps disconcerting that, when it comes to viewership figures, the Rio Olympics are trending way down on the 2012 London Games. Saturday night’s first evening of action garnered 20.7 million viewers in the primetime slot, compared to 28.7 million in 2012, according to NBC. It could be due to the Russian doping scandal or the organisational teething problems with which Rio has grappled. Or perhaps the comparison is unfair: London’s Games were the most-watched event in US television history. That’s quite a high bar to overcome. More on the Rio Olympics here.

Image: Alamy

Cultural legacy

Fresh off the back of its ethereal new library, Perth is set to acquire another cultural landmark: an overhauled state museum. Dreamed up by Pritzker prize-winning Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and his Rotterdam firm Oma, the new museum will replace the current red-brick building in the heart of the Western Australian capital. Its defining feature is a spectacular glass, metal and concrete cantilevered top-floor gallery: the cherry on top of a five-storey structure that dwarfs the previous museum and offers more than triple the exhibition space. The brainchild of state premier Colin Barnett, the AU$428m (€292m) project is slated to be completed in 2020 and continues the revitalisation of Perth’s city centre. It’s also the final step in Barnett’s ambitious infrastructure plan – a worthy parting gesture ahead of next year's elections.

From Monocle 24

Image: Flickr

Art of being a critic

In this roundtable discussion Nancy Durrant – commissioning arts editor for The Times – Alexi Duggins, editor at large of Time Out, and our technology correspondent David Phelan sit down with Robert Bound to get to grips with what goes into a well-written review.

From Monocle Films

Tasmania: buoyant business

Monocle Films visits a world-class ship-builder that’s staying afloat despite being adrift in far-flung Tasmania. Incat’s prized vessels have set records for speed but it’s the island’s skilled workers that keep the company on an even keel.

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