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South Korea-North Korea: Another round of talks about normalizing operations at Kaesong is scheduled for 25 July.

North Korea-China: Update. Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao will visit North Korea this week to attend Korean War commemorations. Li will be the highest ranking Chinese official to visit North Korea since Kim Jong Un became leader.

Comment: The celebrations are annual events. Chinese representation often has been much more senior than the Vice President. Thus, this visit is not necessarily a sign of improved ties, but rather of proper ties.

China-Japan: Chinese coast guard ships approached disputed islands in the East China Sea for the first time Wednesday. A Chinese military aircraft made an unprecedented flight between Okinawan islands, Japanese officials said.

Japan scrambled fighter jets on Wednesday after a Chinese Y-8 maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft flew for the first time through international airspace near Japan's southern islands.

Japan's Defense Ministry said the Chinese aircraft flew through airspace between Okinawa prefecture's main island and the smaller Miyako Island in southern Japan out over the Pacific at around noon and later took the same route back over the East China Sea.

"I believe this indicates China's move toward further maritime expansion," Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters, in comments carried on public broadcaster NHK.

NHK and RBC reported that the Japan Coast Guard on 24 July spotted four China Coast Guard ships entering the contiguous zone for the first time near the Senkaku Islands. NHK said that the Chinese Government recently established the China Coast Guard by combining its marine patrol operations.

Comment: The timing of the incursions could hardly be more poignant, just three days after the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) won a sweeping electoral victory in the upper house of the Diet that gives the party control of both houses.

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Night Watch

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