The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 21 November 2016

Image: Alamy

London calling

Google’s announcement last week that it would invest £1bn (€1.1bn) in a new London HQ raised eyebrows across the continent. To many it doesn’t seem like the most opportune moment to invest in a country whose government is currently doing its best to convince us – and perhaps itself – that it has a coherent plan to leave the EU. What, then, to make of the news that four of China’s top banks are committing £300m (€349m) to finance the initial stage of a £1.7bn (€2bn) project that will convert an old dock in east London into a financial hub for European and Asian businesses? According to Bloomberg, Chinese companies are set to invest £4bn (€4.7bn) in the capital’s property market this year, adding a third to last year’s total. While only time will tell whether Google and China’s apparent confidence in the UK will pay dividends, it’s clear that, for now at least, the country’s capital is still an enticing place to set up shop.

Image: Sam Yeh/Getty Images

Love and marriage

Taiwan is moving closer to becoming the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage although getting to this liberal landmark is a case of two steps forward, one step back. A parliamentary committee meeting to review proposed amendments to marriage legislation had to be postponed by two weeks, following protests from opposition politicians and a crowd of angry voters. Two public hearings – one chaired by the opposition KMT party – will now be held to assuage opposition discontent. Supporters of the marriage reform will hope that this temporary delay proves to be a mere hiccup. Last week president Tsai Ing-wen’s spokesman confirmed the leader’s support for marriage equality and her DPP party occupies a sizeable majority of seats in the legislature.

Image: Angus McRitchie

Montréal makeover

After years of sky-rocketing house prices in Vancouver and Toronto, city officials in Montréal are intent on preventing rampant gentrification in their own city. This month councillors unanimously voted to restrict the opening of new restaurants in the city’s changing Saint-Henri neighbourhood, ruling that any addition must be at least 25 metres away from an existing restaurant. The Projet Montréal party, which has lobbied for a variety of measures to stop gentrification across the city, has argued the importance of keeping rents low enough so that neighbourhoods are able to offer a variety of services for residents, such as shops and grocery stores. The once working-class district of Saint-Henri has seen a number of demonstrations and acts of vandalism this year as residents have protested rising rents.

Image: PA Images

Animal house

When a series of powerful earthquakes hit southern Japan’s Kumamoto in April, many pet owners sought shelter in their cars so that they could stay with their animals. According to a recent survey published by pet insurer Anicom Insurance this reveals a consistent trend. The report found that more than 80 per cent of pet owners in Japan would evacuate with their dogs and cats. A majority said that they stock emergency bottles of water, as well as extra food and carrier-cages, but few have ever taken part in disaster drills with their furry friends. The Environment Ministry has laid out pet-evacuation disaster guidelines for municipalities but it has yet to establish shelters that accommodate both people and pets – a concern in a country with 9.9 million dogs and nearly as many cats.

From Monocle 24

World Cheese Awards

As the global cheese community comes together for the 29th annual World Cheese Awards in San Sebastián, we find out which product – out of 3,061 different cheeses – is chosen as the winner.

From Monocle Films

Japanese mascots

As their cutesy, cartoon profiles – and fan bases – continue to soar, Japan’s cuddly collection of corporate mascots has come to inhabit a central part of the nation’s identity. Monocle Films meets these celebrated creations and the people who bring them to life.

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