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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 29 August 2017

Governance

Image: Getty Images

Trash or treasure?

Japan is expected to debate record-keeping to mitigate further embarrassment but the best solution lies with the country’s journalists.

The recent scandals that have hurt Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ratings have one thing in common: lost records. That’s why this week the government is expected to begin a debate about what documents should be kept and for how long. The goal is to stop officials from arbitrarily shredding records but that’s what past reforms were already supposed to fix – and it’s hardly the only issue. Finance Ministry officials destroyed documents that might have linked Abe’s wife to a nationalist school operator while Defence Ministry officials were caught hiding activity logs that they claimed had been tossed. Yet keeping documents on file doesn’t count for much if nobody is asking to see them – which is why the best solution is for the Japanese media to devote more resources to investigative reporting.

Aviation

Image: Getty Images

Don’t stop me now

Can plane-makers rise to Qantas’s challenge and design one that can fly a UK-Oz route without refuelling?

In a bid to provide non-stop flights between Sydney and London the Australian airline Qantas has said it will choose between the Boeing 777-8X and Airbus A350-900. But there’s a catch. Neither plane is able to complete the flight, which lasts more than 20 hours, without needing to refuel. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has therefore asked the two aircraft manufacturing giants to tweak the designs for their long-haul planes, making them capable of completing the flight in a single leg. The challenge has put Boeing under the gun to deliver and maintain its relationship with Qantas, which has stocked its 747 jumbo jets for more than four decades. Whichever company wins, the prize will certainly be an impressive fleet contract not to mention tackling one of the longest flights still left untapped in aviation.

Geopolitics

Image: Getty Images

Squad goals

World leaders tackle the refugee crisis but can it be solved by figureheads with such disparate beliefs?

Yesterday saw the leaders of Germany, Italy and Spain, along with representatives from Libya, Niger and Chad, descend on Paris for a summit called by French president Emmanuel Macron. The focus was on the refugee crisis and tackling illegal migration from North Africa to the EU. The aim may be noble but too many obstacles stand in the way of decisive change. Firstly even though Libya is present at the table, it’s a failed state and cannot effectively stem the flow of people across the Mediterranean. Secondly within the EU there is too much division for a consensus to emerge – Angela Merkel is pushing other states in the bloc to accept more refugees but some in eastern Europe have already refused. As long as these impediments remain, no summit will solve the crisis.

Industry

Image: Alamy

Cash cows

How is a French food brand dealing with rising milk prices in Russia? It’s bringing in its own herd, of course.

When Russia announced an immediate ban on western food imports in 2014 in response to EU sanctions, dairy products took a particularly big hit. Three years on, French dairy brand Danone’s Russia branch is still feeling sour as milk prices there continue to rise. To survive the milk inflation, which is estimated will slow down next year, Danone has started transporting around 5,000 cows to a farm in Siberia to ensure an affordable supply. The Holstein cows, the world’s highest-producing dairy animal, have travelled up to 4,500km aboard trucks from the Netherlands and Germany. The well-journeyed bovines started providing milk for Danone in May and the final shipment of cattle is due to arrive in September.

From Monocle 24

Technology talk

Culture with Robert Bound

We explore the ways that technology has influenced and changed the English language with publicist Hamish Thompson and assistant senior editor of the Oxford English Dictionary Clifford Sofield.

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