The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 6 July 2018

Diplomacy

Image: Getty Images

Reconciliation game

As China appears to extend an olive branch to Japan, the latter might be wise to grab it with both hands.

China and Japan are, to put it mildly, not the best of friends. Yet there are strong signs that there may be a budding rapprochement between the world’s second and third-largest economies: China and Japan. China has often found it hard to forgive Japan for invading it before the Second World War – accusing the nation of failing to adequately apologise for its actions – but that hasn’t stopped the communist powerhouse from inviting Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe to visit. The recent announcement (the finer details of which are still to be agreed upon) doesn’t exactly mean that the two nations are about to jump into bed, true, but it’s arguably a triumph of pragmatism. Japan wants to keep the US sweet but Donald Trump’s unpredictable foreign-policy manoeuvres mean a thaw with China might be a good strategic move in shoring up political allies closer to home.

Business

Image: Shutterstock

Pride and profits

Profit and inclusivity need not be mutually exclusive, according to former BP head, and a more diverse workforce will improve one’s bottom line.

Pursuing an ethical course of action can sacrifice margins. But not according to Lord Browne, former chief executive of energy company BP, and especially not when it comes to gay rights and inclusivity. “Inclusion has great financial rewards as well as being the right thing to do,” he said during an interview on Monocle 24. “Inclusion is a part of our human rights: to be equal, to be accepted for what we are rather than for what other people want us to be.” In addition to this, people work better when they feel accepted and being inclusive allows companies to draw the best talent, according to Browne. As London Pride rolls on, the dark days that caused Browne to hide his own sexuality from friends and colleagues feels thankfully remote.

Urbanism

Image: Alamy

Living it large

Seoul scoops urbanism award for including citizens in government decisions and cutting traffic.

Ahead of a state visit by South Korean president Moon Jae-in, Seoul mayor Park Won-soon will be in Singapore to pick up the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize. The biennial award, previously given to Suzhou, Bilbao and Medellín, recognises cities that are creating more liveable urban environments. Mayor Park arrives fresh from his re-election win last month. His resounding victory suggests that his policies of engaging citizens in local government and reclaiming the car-oriented city for other users are just as popular with voters. The award is being handed out as part of the World Cities Summit, an international urbanism conference which Singapore has played host to since 2008. This year’s gathering runs until Thursday 12 July.

Aviation

Image: Shutterstock

Safe flight?

The partnership between Boeing and Embraer might have CEOs riding high but it could cause the US to fly into a rage.

Yesterday Boeing and Brazilian aerospace conglomerate Embraer announced a joint venture in which the two will form a new company to operate in the regional aircraft market. The deal makes sense for both sides. Boeing will get access to cheap and proficient means of production in Brazil – and get to draw level with its biggest competitor, Airbus (which last year announced its own partnership with Canada’s Bombardier). Meanwhile, Embraer will get the benefit of Boeing’s commercial muscle. But according to Peter Morris, chief economist of consultancy Flight Ascend, it is politics rather than economics that might threaten the partnership’s success. “Embraer has been the crown jewel in Brazilian aviation economy and there have been fears that it would come to be dominated by a US company with a politician touting a protectionist agenda,” he says. By the same token, it will incur the wrath of the current US administration if too many Boeing jobs are outsourced to Brazil.

From Monocle 24

Cities on the rise

The Urbanist

This week we’re in the Irish port city of Cork for the Academy of Urbanism’s annual congress. The focus of this year’s edition is as much about unlocking the potential of so-called second cities as it is about tackling the challenges posed by the bigger ones.

From Monocle Films

Waterside Expo: Helsinki


The Helsinki Swimming Stadium, originally earmarked for the 1940 Olympic Games, is a winning attraction in the Finnish capital and an oasis among lush lawns where residents come for relaxation and training – after the compulsory jump, that is.

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