Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision on Monday to dissolve Japan’s lower house of parliament and call a snap election on 22 October is his biggest gamble in the five years he’s been in power. As his public support ratings rebound after a brief dip caused by recent scandals, Abe is hoping his Liberal Democratic party-led ruling bloc defends its majority – there are 465 seats up for grabs. Or, rather, it has to if Abe is to push through the tax hike and controversial revision to the constitution that he’s planning. Recent media polls predict the bloc will only lose a few of the 326 seats it currently holds. But a wild card has entered: Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike’s new conservative Party of Hope. Given her allies’ strong showing – and the LDP’s big loss – in July’s Tokyo assembly elections, Koike could hold the key to Abe’s future.
US Army generals are losing their stars. The Army has suffered a recent rash of high-ranking officers – one to four-star generals – breaking the military code of conduct, from extramarital affairs to abusing government funds. In the past nine months alone two generals have been found guilty of misconduct. To combat the problem the Army is launching a series of programmes to shore-up the officer corps, including providing mental-health counselling and career-management schemes. Often high-ranking officers in remote locations have few peers, leaving little in the way of checks-and-balances and creating an isolated environment that’s ripe for the abuse of power.
South Korea may be staring down regular threats and provocations from its neighbour but that hasn’t put collectors off the country. The annual Korean International Art Fair, the country’s largest, wrapped up its 16th edition weekend and shown record sales. The four-day event in southern Seoul drew in more than 54,000 visitors who came to admire antiques, glassware and art and the fair posted sales of KRW27bn (€20m). With a flourishing domestic art market and international collectors turning an eye to the country, it doesn’t look like tensions on the peninsula are putting the brakes on Seoul’s art scene any time soon.
Tomorrow marks the beginning of the four-day Monaco Yacht Show (MYS), one of the year’s most eagerly anticipated get-togethers for the luxury-boat industry. A quirk of the business is that, with build times generally around three or four years for an average superyacht, insiders have known for a while that 2017 was going to be a golden year as a cadre of new boats set sail. “About half of the fleet of 125 yachts at the show are less than two years old,” says Gaëlle Tallarida, managing director of MYS. She is expecting a better turnout than the 34,000 people who visited her stands last year, when the industry was still emerging from a protracted slump in the aftermath of the global recession. “More than 40 yachts are being launched this year as world premieres.”
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