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NightWatch 20100914


For the Night of 14 September 2010

Japan: Prime Minister Naoto Kan won the election of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and will remain as Japan's prime minister. Kan said today, "Japan is currently in serious difficulty. We must rebuild Japan to make it healthy again and hand it to the next generation. I will stake my life on doing that job and on winning support from the people."

He defeated challenger Ozawa by a margin of six votes in yesterday's leadership election by DPJ lawmakers. Kan statement that he'll decide on DPJ executive posts following talks with "senior party members including former presidents of the Party indicates pending changes to cabinet and DPJ leadership position.

Comment: Most of the issues in the DPJ election are internal and economic. Kan is a former finance minister who has called for fiscal discipline and job creation to avoid a Greek-style debt crisis.

The one outstanding issue with the US is the relocation of the US Marine Corps facility at Futenma on Okinawa. The economy is more pressing, but the DPJ-led government has not yet delivered on either issue. Kan's intra-Party celebration promises to be short lived.

China-Japan: Today, China postponed a visit to Japan by Li Jianguo, Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, because of the maritime confrontation in which a Chinese fishing boat apparently deliberately rammed Japanese patrol boats.

Li's five-day visit was planned to enlarge exchanges between Japan's lower house and China's legislature. In notifying the Japanese Foreign Ministry of the postponement, the Chinese Embassy in Japan provided no explanation.

Meanwhile, Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin repeated China's protest against Japan's handling of the collision on 7 September, during a meeting with the Japanese Ambassador to China, according to a report in Kyodo. A statement released by the Japanese Embassy in Beijing said China called for the release of the Chinese ship's captain.

Japanese Ambassador Uichiro Niwa told Liu that China deliberately was trying to link the incident to unrelated issues, including China's announcement it would postpone talks with Japan on a joint gas field development treaty in the East China Sea.

Comment: The details of who is right or wrong or who exercises legal authority in dispute waters are now clarified as secondary to the test of strategic will between two Asian powers. The Chinese have now escalated this almost trivial incident as a test case of who shall dominant northeast Asia.

The Chinese are attempting to make Japan submit to Chinese strategic dominance. They have chosen the fishing boat incident to test Japan's mettle. As in every past instance, Japan is almost contemptuous of the Chinese for even daring to question the fairness of a Japanese investigation.

After the Chinese assess Japan's resistance, backed by South Korea, the issue will be settled. Chinese bullying will not work with Japan or South Korea.

The episode provides an unusually "clean" example of Asians solving Asian problems - a favorite NightWatch theme. "Clean" means there is no apparent US interest in the issue. Thus, while Japan is confronting China, Japan's ally, the US, has been sending delegations to China under the thus far unjustified belief that China is becoming more open to the US.

India-Jammu and Kashmir State: Update. A curfew was extended to all major towns on 14 September following the 14 deaths in clashes, officials said. Rioters had taken over the national highway leading to Jammu, stranding travelers. Air service was suspended for another three days.

Comment: Yesterday the issue stoking civil unrest supposedly was Quran burning in the US, though Kashmiris were two or more days behind the issue. Today's demonstrations showed the demonstrators will seize on any convenient issue to disrupt civil order.

What the Kashmiris never seem to understand is how they are being manipulated, by Pakistan. No country in central Asia wants another Islam-based state and that includes Pakistan.

Pakistan's interests are served by manipulating the Kashmiri aspirations for an independent state so as cause turmoil that ties down a quarter million or more Indian Army and paramilitary police force in security duties. Pakistani politicians always must pay lip service to Kashmiri independence or self-determination to placate the Pakistan Army, but neither the politicians nor the Army wants an independent Islamic Kashmir state.

China sees no profit from the creation of another independent Muslim state. India's constitution specifies that Jammu and Kashmir State is integral to India. No state bordering Kashmir wants another uncontrollable source of constant regional instability. Those principles are fundamental to assessing unrest in Kashmir.

Relative to the interests of all the parties, the Kashmiris get a much better deal working with the Indians than they would get from any Muslim state in central Asia, especially Pakistan. Pakistan would annex them to keep them under control.

India-Pakistan: Defense Minister Mukhtar said Pakistan does not want a war with India, but if India tried to impose a war behind the facade of a Kashmir dispute, then Pakistan would fully defend its territory.

Mukhtar said India's concern over and objection to the presence of Chinese troops in Gilgit-Baltistan is incorrect. He said China is Pakistan's friend and has helped the country in tough times, so Pakistan can never forget Beijing's goodwill gestures. He also said the Chinese troops were in no way interfering with Pakistan's work and sovereignty.

Note: Mukhtar's remarks look a lot like an admission about the accuracy of the Indian accusations, confirming the presence of Chinese soldiers in far northern Pakistan.

Afghanistan: The anti-government insurgent group Hezb-i-Islami said that holding elections while foreign forces are present is worthless, Afghan Islamic Press reported 14 September. The party rejected the election for seats in the lower house of the Afghan parliament which is set for next Saturday, saying that the elections had no value because they are held in the presence of foreign forces. Hezb-i-Islami believes that as long as occupation forces are present in Afghanistan, jihad is the only solution.

Taliban already denounced the election. Some provincial fighting groups have threatened to kill or disfigure anyone who votes. Such threats make voter turnout a reliable measure of anti-Taliban sentiment.

Iran: For the record. US national Sarah Shourd was handed over to officials at the Swiss Embassy in Tehran on 14 September. A bank guarantee was used to post Shourd's bail, so the prosecutor released her, according to the prosecutor's website.

Iran deserves little credit for its humanitarian impulses. It got paid what it asked in order to release the American ingénue. Some nation, group or person ransomed Shourd. The Persians acted in the standard practice of the 12th century.

Israel-Palestinian Authority: The commander of the Al-Qassam Brigades in the Gaza Strip said his forces will continue armed resistance against Israel despite peace talks, according to a web posting today. The peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis were criticized, and the letter said Israel only knows the sword and bullets, with its defeat only coming by fire and resistance. He said al-Qassam, the military wing of Hamas, will "liberate Palestine from the sea to the river and its capital will be Jerusalem."

Comment: The significance of this and other statements is that Hamas does not recognize the authority of President Abbas, who is a member of Fatah, to speak for the Palestinians of the Gaza strip. Secondly, the continuation of the talks will not result in a cessation of attacks from the Gaza Strip. Third, it confirms a recent Wall Street Journal economic analysis that showed the West Bank Palestinians are becoming more prosperous and productive than the Gaza Strip Palestinians. The gap is growing and making Palestinians in the West Bank less prone to violence.

NightWatch Special Announcement:

Kforce Government Solutions (KGS) is pleased to announce that it will sponsor the first ever short course entitled "NightWatch Concepts of Analysis" on the afternoon of 29 September at the AFCEA auditorium. The Instructor/Facilitator will be Mr. John F. McCreary, founder of NightWatch.

Please follow the link below to register for the course and to obtain further information about the course, the instructor, the location and the fee schedule.

End of NightWatch for 14 September.

NightWatch is brought to you by Kforce Government Solutions, Inc. (KGS), a leader in government problem-solving, Data Confidence® and intelligence. Views and opinions expressed in NightWatch are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of KGS, its management, or affiliates.

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