Wednesday 13 July 2022 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Wednesday. 13/7/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Shutterstock

Opinion / Fiona Wilson

Last goodbye

Shinzo Abe’s funeral was held yesterday at Zojoji, a centuries-old temple in the shadow of Tokyo Tower. Crowds lined the street in front of the temple to say a final farewell to the country’s longest-serving prime minister, who was shot and killed on Friday. My colleague Jun and I were among those standing in front of the main gate, built in 1622 and one of the few sections of the temple to survive wartime bombing.

The funeral was a private affair but queues of people had been coming to Zojoji all day to pay their respects. Schoolboys stood to watch this unexpected moment of history; a group of Taiwanese well-wishers carried flowers and flags; news crews were primed, with cameras pointed at the exit and helicopters circling overhead. As the hearse left the temple, the crowd burst into applause and shouts of “Thank you” could be heard all around. Abe’s wife, Akie, sat in the front seat as the car was driven through Tokyo en route to Kirigaya funeral hall, passing the National Diet, prime minister’s office and party headquarters on the way.

Shinzo Abe’s political seat was in Yamaguchi in the west of Japan but his Tokyo home was in Tomigaya, just minutes from the Monocle office. Abe had opted not to move into the grand official residence during his second period in office from 2012 to 2020, preferring to stay in his own apartment. He was a modest presence in the neighbourhood, in spite of his political stature. Even in office, his unobtrusive security was a testament to Japan’s remarkable sense of safety. It would be painful if that openness were to be lost as a result of this one act of violence.

Fiona Wilson is Monocle’s Tokyo bureau chief.

Image: Reuters

Politics / South Korea

Loose lips

Two months after being sworn in, South Korea’s president, Yoon Suk-yeol (pictured), is finding that his popularity has plummeted and his unvarnished style appears to be alienating the very people he was trying to connect with. Having decided to move out of the Blue House, a secluded presidential compound, he now shares an office in central Seoul with the presidential press pack and his off-the-cuff remarks during daily Q&A sessions have not been well received by voters. South Koreans want their gaffe-prone commander in chief to sound more presidential and be better prepared to answer reporters. Yoon’s mouth is not the only thing that he needs to get under control. His pick for the chief of the country’s Fair Trade Commission was forced to withdraw his candidacy over the weekend as a result of a personal scandal – the fourth person to leave Yoon’s young administration under a cloud. Transparency and accessibility are all well and good but, as a former prosecutor, Yoon should know that his government must be able to withstand scrutiny.

Image: Carlos Alba

Culture / Spain

Yes we Can

The international art fair Can opens today in Ibiza, following a trend of galleries and events heading for sunny locales where collectors like to holiday. Founded by Sergio Sancho (pictured), who is also behind the UVNT fair in Madrid, the new show is curated by Croatian-born Sasha Bogojev, who selected about 30 international and six Spanish galleries. Standing out in a packed art-world calendar isn’t easy but Can has every chance of succeeding by virtue of its location alone, a few steps away from both the town and the beach. Ibiza’s bohemian spirit and music scene round off the appeal.

“The island has, for many years, had a creative community linked to the world of contemporary creation,” says Sancho. “We want to do our bit so that Ibiza becomes a cultural reference point – an avant garde place, as it always has been in many areas. Why not in the contemporary art scene?”

Image: Reuters

Aviation / Sri Lanka & India

Change of destination

The political and economic chaos in Sri Lanka has resulted in new opportunities for airports in nearby southern India. Fuel shortages in Sri Lanka have forced many flights to and from the country to land at Cochin, Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram airports in India for refuelling. This has significantly boosted aviation fuel sales and revenues of Indian airport operators, state governments and oil companies. Most of the flights are operated by Sri Lankan Airlines but Air Arabia, Jazeera Airways and Gulf Air have also made unexpected touchdowns.

The landings by foreign carriers are welcomed in India, where airports were hit hard by the pandemic-related drop in the number of flights. Airlines are working to keep their Colombo connections running but there’s one passenger who you probably won’t see aboard the flights any time soon: outgoing Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa was reportedly stopped from boarding a flight bound for Dubai from the Sri Lankan capital on Monday.

Image: Getty Images

Urbanism / USA

Water under the bridge

The long-awaited new Sixth Street viaduct in Los Angeles, six years in the making, has finally opened following a community ceremony to mark the occasion over the weekend – and it looks spectacular. Stretching over the Los Angeles river, connecting Boyle Heights in the city’s Eastside with the Arts District downtown, the 1,067 metre-long concrete-and-steel structure can be crossed on foot, by cycling or in a car. Designed by Michael Maltzan Architecture, the $588m (€584m) bridge features 10 pairs of titled arches and is lit from below in red, white and blue, which has already led to the nickname “Ribbon of Light”. After long delays, this week finally marks a new chapter in the city’s urban renewal. But the original 1932 bridge will always remain in Angelenos’ hearts – and in cinematic history. Remember the car race in Grease?

Monocle 24 / Monocle On Culture

Music for moons

Robert Bound is joined by composer Amanda Lee Falkenberg to explore how she created her new work, The Moons Symphony. It tells the story of seven moons in our solar system and dramatises the past, present and future of moon explorations.

Monocle Films / Global

‘The Monocle Book of Photography’

The Monocle Book of Photography draws on the best of our visual stories from an archive 15 years in the making. A handsomely produced linen-bound edition, the book also features original reporting about each of the assignments, as well as first-hand accounts from the photographers and editors involved. Order your copy today.


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