The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 16 January 2017

Image: Taro Terasawa

No smoke without fire

Japan is hoping to ban smoking at restaurants as part of an effort to reduce secondhand-smoke-related deaths; if only restaurateurs would stop fighting the idea. At an emergency meeting last week industry groups representing restaurants, bars and kissaten (coffee shops) opposed the ban – saying it would be bad for business in a country where 20 per cent of the population regularly lights up – and urged for voluntary measures and designated smoking sections instead. Prime minister Shinzo Abe has pushed for legislation that would make the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo a tobacco-free event; it’s a tradition for host countries that goes back to the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. But critics question the government’s willingness to crack down too hard on smoking when it still owns one third of Japan Tobacco, the world’s third-largest tobacco company.

Image: Getty Images

To the top?

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has resigned from her role as chief secretary of Hong Kong and announced that she will run for the top job; she has previously expressed her wish to retire. However, after the current chief executive Leung Chun-ying decided not to pursue a second term in office last month, Lam Cheng reconsidered her position. Her 36 years of public service make her a strong contender but her recent move to bypass public consultation for the HK$3.5bn (€425m) Hong Kong Palace Museum in the West Kowloon Cultural District has stirred controversy. Whether this will impact the vote will be seen on 26 March when the 1,194-member election committee cast their ballots.

Image: Getty Images/JTB Photo

No riff-raff

Holidaying in Oceania’s Palau may never be the same again. The archipelago’s president Tommy Remengesau has proposed new legislation that would give five-star hotels and resorts exclusive-development rights in the country. The measure is aimed at curbing mass tourism, which Remengesau says is harming the natural environment; he has also argued that many budget tourists put little money into the economy. While Palau isn’t the first country that has tried to control tourism, it’s disappointing that the president is proposing such a narrow-minded solution. While there’s no guarantee that luxury-resort guests will sink their money into regional businesses, the country might also alienate visitors who want to explore Palau but don’t favour the resort experience. Why not implement a tourist visa fee or tax to fund local programmes and infrastructure instead? That way visitors will have options when it comes to hotels but will still be putting money directly into the country’s coffers.

Image: Wood Wood

Looking fresh

The mood at the autumn/winter 2017 edition of Milan Fashion Week Men’s has been fairly sombre due to the host of marquee names that have jumped ship (Calvin Klein and Vivienne Westwood among them). But the White Show in Milan is doing its best to keep the city’s runway schedule looking lively. Under an agreement with the National Chamber of Italian Fashion, White handpicks an international designer to stage a show as part of the week’s proceedings. Its choice this season? Wood Wood, Karl-Oskar Olsen and Brian SS Jensen’s effortlessly cool (and eminently wearable) Copenhagen label. “Wood Wood is a high-end streetwear phenomenon, a brand that will animate the catwalk with its forward-thinking fashion identity,” says Massimiliano Bizzi, White’s founder and president. The show, which will wrap up in the Tortona district today, might just be the breath of fresh air that Milan needs.

From Monocle Films

Time for a hospitality refresh

From nation to brand, city hall to hotel, who is doing hospitality well and offering benchmarks for experiences that are genuine, reliable and believable? This Monocle Quality of Life Conference film was the overture to the panel discussion, exploring how cities and brands make visitors and locals feel welcome.

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