Southeast Asian leaders have descended upon the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore for the 32nd Asean Summit. Debates will centre on cyber security, smart cities and the perennial row over the South China Sea, but the biggest issues concern the politicians who have decided to swerve the two-day conference. Myanmar’s state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi’s absence is no coincidence given the difficult questions she faces following the Rohingya humanitarian crisis in the country’s Rakhine state. Silence appears to be Suu Kyi’s default response – the leader dodges any mention of the alleged atrocities at home and has given no reason for missing the summit. Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak has also decided to skip proceedings, although he has at least provided an excuse. Razak has dissolved parliament for a general election and a corruption scandal threatens to unseat him as the country heads to the polls. Consensus from all members is needed for any action to be taken following the Asean Summit, a rule that might need rethinking if it wants to get anything done.
We’ve seen it all before: Hillary Clinton shifted to the left on everything from social security to trade when facing Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primaries. Now it looks like the “Bernie effect” is taking its toll on the governor of New York state, Andrew Cuomo, as he stares down re-election in November. In a bid to counter former ‘Sex and the City’ actress-turned-political-hopeful Cynthia Nixon – a fellow Democrat who has deftly demonstrated her liberal chops by promoting prison reform and marijuana legalisation – centrist strongman Cuomo has taken a leaf out of her playbook. He’s suddenly showing interest in giving parolees the right to vote and waging a war on plastic bags, something he previously dismissed out of hand. With the US’s penchant for populists with little to no political experience, he may be running a little scared.
Luxury conglomerate LVMH has opened its first eyewear factory. Positioned in Longarone – a Northern Italian town famous for producing spectacles – the facility is the result of a joint venture between LVMH and Italian glasses-maker Marcolin, and will manufacture products for LVMH brands including Céline, Loewe and Fred. Bringing production in-house makes sense: it enables the company to increase its profit margins and retain tighter control over the manufacturing process. LVMH is following a trend – in 2014 its rival Kering cut out suppliers and more recently Italian eyewear titan Luxottica merged with Essilor, the world’s biggest lens-maker, to more tightly control design, production and distribution. All signs point to an industry that is shifting from its traditional licensing model to become increasingly vertical.
An epic new exhibition opened at Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum yesterday. “Japan in Architecture” looks at the past, present and future of Japanese architecture via 100 projects and 400 exhibits. Highlights include a full-scale replica of Sen no Rikyu’s Tai-an, the oldest teahouse in Japan, and a one-third-scale model of the home of 20th-century architectural titan Kenzo Tange. Now demolished, the house has been meticulously recreated in the museum by master carpenter Takeshi Serizawa. The exhibition also confronts questions about the materials we should use in the future. A proposal for a timber skyscraper by the University of Tokyo’s Koshihara Lab opens up the possibilities for an urban landscape beyond glass and steel. For a country that has produced some of the biggest names in contemporary architecture, Japan has often been reticent about exploring what it does that draws admiration from around the world but this stunning exhibition reveals a newfound confidence – and will until 17 September.
We travel to Japan’s least-populous prefecture, Tottori, where we explore one of its most-famous hotels.