Good morning. Here's my take on some of the stories driving the debate in politics, finance and social issues across Asia today:
Nomura puts first woman in charge.
Shinzo Abe's attempt at "womenomics" got a sizable boost from Nomura, which became the first major Japanese bank to put a woman in charge. It named Chie Shinpo, 48, president of Nomura Trust and Banking, in a move sure to shake up a deeply patriarchal pillar of Japan Inc. This is more than just a milestone; it's a boost for the Japanese Prime Minister's pledge to increase the role of women in corporate board rooms. Let's hope this promotion encourages more Japan Inc. icons to tap their female talent pools.
Victoria's Secret hits China.
Women's undergarments don't tend to get much attention as economic indicators. That is, unless the place that once couldn't afford them is now becoming the key sales market. This Quartz item looks at the latest foray by Victoria's Secret into the world's most populous nation. As writer Lily Kuo points out: "The entrance of one of the most iconic lingerie brands marks another stage in China’s transformation from the world’s low-cost garment manufacturer into a consumer in the premium clothing sector."
Hong Kong's inner 'spoilt child.'
Li Ka-shing, Asia's richest man, isn't happy with the state of his city. The tycoon who's known as "Superman" in Hong Kong warns that the place has gone "totally wrong" in the direction of populism and now acts like a "spoilt child." His gripe: too much government attention to poverty reduction and not enough to the investments in technology and innovation that he believes do more to create jobs and wealth. This view puts Li at odds with many of Hong Kong's 7 million people, but when Forbes ranks you among the world's 20 richest people your views tend to drown out all others. Even when they're questionable.
Whiff of scandal in Indonesia?
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s second term as Indonesian president has been dogged by an anti-corruption commission probe into the 2008 bailout of PT Bank Century. Here, the Jakarta Post details how recent indictments in the case are returning to haunt his last several months in office. The risk is that the return of this scandal further distracts Yudhoyono at a time when he should be cementing the reforms that have stabilized his nation over the last 10 years.
Korea's pension giant takes on chaebol.
With $400 billion in assets, South Korea's National Pension Service has a knack for getting its way with corporate executives. It's gratifying, then, to see the world's third-largest pension pool taking a stand against the family-run conglomerates that dominate Korea's economy and stifle competition. It's trying to block an extension of Shin Sa Hyeon’s term as CEO of chaebol Halla Group’s Mando Corp. While even pension officials admit they might not win, this is a brawl worth having.
(William Pesek is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @williampesek.)
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