The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 28 August 2017

Employment

Image: Kohei Take

Office politics

Japan’s labour shortage continues to grow – so why not do more to attract women into the workplace?

Japanese companies can’t seem to hire full-time staff fast enough. That’s the take-away from a survey published last week by Teikoku Databank in which more than 44 per cent of Japanese companies complained about labour shortages – the highest in more than a decade. It’s fuelling worries that Japan’s ageing and shrinking population is pinching growth. Yet the country still has an underutilised resource: women. Since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in 2012, the percentage of women in the workforce may have risen to 66.5 per cent from 63 per cent but women still account for a tiny percentage of private-sector managerial posts. The situation isn’t helped by Japan’s long office hours and inflexible working styles. It looks like a corporate culture reboot is in order.

Urbanism

Image: REX/Shutterstock

Safe bet?

Residents of Macau would much rather their government invests in public safety than casinos.

Last week one of the strongest typhoons in the past decade swept through southeast China, killing 12 and injuring hundreds. Typhoon Hato (“pigeon” in Japanese) exposed some pressing urban issues. Hong Kong may have been left relatively unscathed but the strong gusts uncovered neighbouring Macau’s lack of infrastructure investment. Despite the region’s economic prosperity – it boasts Asia’s highest GDP per capita – the storm left Macau looking like a war zone. Instead of pouring funds into its gaudy casinos, it should invest in its public facilities and take its cues from Hong Kong, which recently buried a subterranean storm-water tank beneath the Happy Valley racecourse and has further draining tunnels in the pipeline. Meanwhile, residents of the gambling capital are fed up of receiving cash handouts as a remedy for the city’s shortcomings.

Environment

Image: REX/Shutterstock

Fool’s gold

Brazil has reneged on a deal to protect part of its rainforest; perhaps it could learn a thing or two from the Kiwis?

As if the world hasn’t experienced enough environmental threats of late, the Brazilian government last week rolled back a decree protecting 46,000 sq km of the Amazon rainforest from mining, in order to trigger the interest of investors and profit from its unexploited minerals. Roughly the size of Denmark, this part of the forest is home to many indigenous tribes as well as endangered animals and plants, making the move to allow gold and copper mining here even more critical. With the Americas struggling to prioritise nature over profit, perhaps they should take a look across the Pacific to the Kiwis? New Zealand has just rejected a land swap, salvaging a large stretch of Ruahine Forest Park and showing the world that environmental issues are still a priority – at least in some countries.

Aviation

Air support

Can one US airline give recent controversy the boot with its new uniforms?

United Airlines is getting ready to take-off with a new set of uniforms. The world’s third largest airline has announced new partnerships with three US clothiers that will have its pilots and stewardesses looking smart – but smart enough to give the airline the hospitality boost it needs after its recent overbooking controversy? It’s worth a try. The US’s oldest clothing brand, Brooks Brothers, and Tracy Reese will provide suits for flight attendants and pilots, while the Detroit-based work-clothes brand Carhartt will cut and sew uniforms for the technical team. The move towards higher quality uniforms comes hot on the heels of a dust-up after American Airlines rolled out uniforms last year only to find thousands of flight attendants contracting hives and rashes from the sub-par garments. We can’t say if the new uniforms will lead to a renaissance of in-air fashion across the US but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

From Monocle 24

Treats from Myanmar

The Menu

Delicacies from Myanmar, Italy’s prized culatello ham, plus a cocktail recommendation from Rich Hunt, one of the UK’s top bartenders.

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