The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 25 September 2017

Business

Image: Getty Images

Satellite community

A far-flung Japanese town is hoping to put itself on the map by finding ways to connect with the country’s metropolises.

Shari, a remote town of 11,700 residents in northern Japan, has struggled with a shrinking population and economy since the 1960s. But the community is now on the frontline of an experiment that could show the way forward for others around the country. This year more than a dozen companies have sent employees to work remotely from the Shari Town Telework Centre Shiretoko Lab, a converted government office that has guest rooms, high-speed internet and teleconferencing equipment. (It also has a pretty national park on its doorstep.) The programme, says Shari official Yuri Azuma, is one way that the town is attracting visitors and connecting local businesses with those in big cities.

Military

Image: Dan Wilton

Shooting blanks

Trump’s intensive airstrikes against Isis show no sign of abating – unless the US runs out of bombs, of course.

The US Air Force is running out of bombs. After three years of airstrikes against Isis the Pentagon is struggling to maintain stockpiles of munitions, from Hellfire missiles to guided Small Diameter Bombs. And with Donald Trump seemingly ratcheting up the campaign – dropping an all-time high of more than 5,000 bombs last month – numbers will continue to dwindle. The reason for the shortfall? Uncertainty over the Congressional budget, of course. Until Congress can agree on one, defence firms are wary of increasing bomb production even with requests from the Pentagon for more. For now, the US will have to make do with shifting weapons from other regions, affecting its readiness elsewhere.

Arts

Image: Getty Images

Youth theatre

The Spanish capital’s cheap seats may come at a price but it’s one worth paying.

Madrid is committed to getting young people to engage with the arts – and it’s willing to pay for it. This week the city’s local government ratified a €4m initiative that will allow those aged between 16 and 26 free access to the capital’s top six theatres. A quarter of the seats in venues such as the 19th-century Teatro Español will be reserved for young people, who simply need to register online to secure tickets. It’s a pricey but straightforward and laudable way to engage the next generation with theatre. The initiative will run from 23 October to the end of next year but mayor Manuela Carmena hopes to extend the window further and even enrol theatres outside the capital.

Property

Image: Getty Images

Sky’s the limit

A prime site in Hong Kong will soon come up for grabs – and it has developers on tenterhooks.

Land in Hong Kong is notoriously scarce so the opportunity to develop a prime harbourfront site has property tycoons, urban planners and architects across the world talking. The Hong Kong government is preparing to sell off a largely empty plot of reclaimed land (known as Site 3) that sits alongside the IFC skyscraper – the last land parcel in the central district to undergo major development. The successful bidder will have a rare chance to leave a considerable mark on the city’s famous skyline – and will face plenty of public scrutiny. “This is Hong Kong’s front door so whatever is built there will speak directly to the world,” says Pittsburgh’s former mayor Thomas J Murphy, who this week shared his urban-development insights in the city-state at a forum run by Washington-based think-tank Urban Land Institute. “The bidding conversation needs to be about quality, not price.”

From Monocle 24

Distripress 2017

The Stack

A report from the trade fair that covers print and digital distribution. We show some love to the underappreciated army of publishers, retailers and more who are as important to the industry as the writers, editors and photographers who put our beloved magazines together.

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