Night Watch

Japan-China: On 23 April Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to "expel by force" any Chinese landing on the islands in the East China Sea, and promised "decisive action."

"We would never allow a landing," Abe told parliament in response to questions from lawmakers, adding: "It would be natural for us to expel by force if (the Chinese) were to make a landing," he said.

Comment: This is the strongest statement the government has made about Japan's determination to defend its claim to the Senkaku Islands against the Chinese.

The presence of a contingent of eight Chinese civilian government ships within the territorial sea of the islands all day on 23 April appears to have prompted Abe's statement. Japanese media reported that the eight-ship incursion is the largest this year.

This dispute is escalating. Intrusions by Chinese government ships, not navy ships, have increased in frequency and size since the reorganization of the civilian maritime agencies in early March. President Xi's speech to the National People's Congress and the recent Defense White Paper leave no doubt about the Chinese leadership's determination to recover the islands, at some point.

Chinese intrusions appear intentionally designed to probe Japan's military response capabilities as well as the attitude of the Japanese population towards a confrontation with China, while asserting China's claim. China is arousing Japanese nationalism. With neither side backing down, clashes and tests of political and military resolve are unavoidable.

Pakistan: Former president Musharraf appeared before the Anti-Terrorism Court in Rawalpindi on 23 April in connection with accusations of complicity in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in 2007. The court attached his property in 2011 to ensure he would appear eventually to answer the charge. When Musharraf appeared the court lifted the attachment and Musharraf promised to cooperate.

Meanwhile in Islamabad, the High Court resumed a hearing on how Musharraf escaped from the Court on 18 April when he was supposed to have been taken into custody and who helped. At least one Deputy Superintendent of Police has been suspended. 

Comment: It looks like and local Pakistani observers have remarked that Musharraf is likely to beat the charge against him in the Anti-Terorrism Court. With the interim government's refusal to prosecute him for treason, the remaining actions appear to be those before the Islamabad High Court over his imprisonment of judges.


Night Watch

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