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The Diplomat Brief
September 16,
The Diplomat Brief
Welcome to the latest issue of Diplomat Brief. This week our top story is the selection of a new prime minister in Japan. We also have an interview deconstructing Pakistan’s many contradictions from former New York Times Pakistan bureau chief Declan Walsh.
Story of the week
What to Expect From Japan’s New Leader


What to Expect From Japan’s New Leader

What Happened: As of September 16, Japan has a new prime minister for the first time in nearly 8 years, after Abe Shinzo’s unprecedented stint. Longtime Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide, as expected, won the nod in an internal Liberal Democratic Party vote on Tuesday and was officially voted in as prime minister the next day.

Our Focus: “We are still not sure how Mr. Suga will perform as a prime minister and as the chief diplomat of this country but he might take a more practical approach and he may be more prepared to make compromises than other people in his party,” Shigeto Nagai, who heads the Japan team at Oxford Economics, told The Diplomat.

What Comes Next: Speculation is rife that Suga may seek to dissolve the lower house of parliament and go to the polls as soon as this November to win a popular mandate – and take advantage of a fragmented opposition. He’ll need all the support he can get to navigate an ongoing pandemic and deep recession.

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Behind the News


Declan Walsh

Journalist Declan Walsh on Pakistani politics, rights, and religion: “The issues that gave rise to the militant explosion [in Pakistan] remain unresolved… while things have quieted in Pakistan there is little reason to believe, alas, that they will stay like that.”

Read the interview
This Week in Asia

Northeast Asia

US, China Continue to Clash Over Xinjiang

Washington stepped up its public criticism over human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang region with a new web page devoted to the subject. China continues to deny any wrongdoing and is increasingly marshalling its allies to stand up in its defense. With new U.S. sanctions seemingly every week and talk of an Olympic boycott looming, the clash will only heat up from here.

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South Asia

India’s Defense Minister Talks Tough

India’s parliament started its monsoon session Monday amid serious tensions with China in eastern Ladakh. In a bid to quell opposition criticism of the government’s handling of the crisis during the current session, the Indian defense minister gave a robust statement in the parliament Tuesday. Will that be enough?

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Southeast Asia

COVID-19 Takes a Turn for the Worse

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a turn for the worse in Southeast Asia, with infections spiking upwards in several countries. In Indonesia, September 10 saw a record of 3,861 confirmed cases, pushing the capital Jakarta into a second period of lockdown. Cases are also rising in the Philippines, which now leads Southeast Asia in COVID-19 cases, and Myanmar, where an incipient outbreak threatens to derail the country’s November 8 election.

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Central Asia

Gulnara’s Money Comes Home to Uzbekistan – Maybe

Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of late Uzbek President Islam Karimov, was once called a “robber baron.” Now, the Swiss and Uzbek governments are working out how exactly to return the millions she made in bribes back to the people of Uzbekistan. Activists worry that without adequate oversight the influx of funds could feed further corruption. Always follow the money.

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Visualizing APAC


Who’s Escalating the China-Japan Territorial Dispute?

Popular wisdom holds that China has been increasingly aggressive in the East China Sea. Is that borne out by the data?

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This graph from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs shows the number of Chinese vessels reported within the Senkaku Islands' contiguous zone and territorial sea each month.

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Word of the Week



Zhan lang or “wolf warrior” — The title of a popular action film franchise in China, now also used to describe an ultranationalist, combative stance on the part of some Chinese diplomats.

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The Diplomat BriefThe Bell Boeing V-22
US-Taiwan Trade

The Diplomat Magazine | September 2020

US-Taiwan Trade

This month, we explain Europe’s rapidly hardening stance on China in a year that was supposed to represent a high-water mark for the relationship. We also trace the rise and fall of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and its role in global jihad, evaluate Australia’s bold shift on defense in its latest strategic update, and look back at a tumultuous three years in inter-Korean relations. And, of course, we offer a range of reporting, analysis, and opinion from across the region.

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Diplomat Risk Intelligence
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