Japan’s Remarkable Call for American Leadership | Germany Arrests ‘Chinese Spy’ in Second AfD Scandal | China Weaponizes Disinformation Against Taiwan, and more

The AfD’s signature issue is a hard-line anti-immigration stance, and the data showed that migration was among young people’s main concerns.

Climate Change and Extreme Weather Impacts Hit Asia Hard  (WMO)
Asia remained the world’s most disaster-hit region from weather, climate and water-related hazards in 2023. Floods and storms caused the highest number of reported casualties and economic losses, whilst the impact of heatwaves became more severe, according to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

Copernicus Report Shows Year of Weather Extremes in Europe  (Jeannette Cwienk, DW)
As the world increasingly feels the impact of fossil fuel emissions, the climate in Europe is also changing. Last year, the continent experienced a host of contrasting weather extremes, according to the latest European State of the Climate report.
“In 2023, Europe witnessed the largest wildfire ever recorded, one of the wettest years, severe marine heat waves and widespread devastating flooding,” said Carlo Buontempo, director of the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), which authored the report alongside the World Meteorological Organization.
The three warmest years in Europe have all occurred since 2020, and the 10 warmest since 2007.

How Would China Weaponize Disinformation Against Taiwan in a Cross-Strait Conflict?  (Scott W. Harold, The Diplomat)
People’s Liberation Army (PLA) authors have written extensively about the role of “cognitive domain operations” in supporting military operations, which they see as helping to undermine an opposing society’s will to defend itself and its leadership’s resolve and effectiveness. Beijing has already employed disinformation against Taiwan for years, with one recent report concluding that Taiwan is the country most affected by disinformation worldwide.
What might China’s future disinformation operations against Taiwan focus on and how can Taipei and its partners combat them? China would likely have at least five discrete audiences for disinformation operations in mind, with specific lines of effort and goals for each.
Preparing for a potential conflict with China over Taiwan is an immense and unsettling undertaking, but one best begun early and coordinated with as many like-minded allies and partners as possible so as to raise the prospects of achieving deterrence through denial of the Beijing’s ambitions. Taiwan’s experience provides evidence that democracies can protect their elections, educate their publics, and preserve their freedom if they pull together and act quickly and firmly.

Japan’s Remarkable Call for American Leadership  (Jeffrey W. Hornung, The Hill)
Over the last two decades, there has been a noticeable shift in Japan’s behavior. Unfortunately, many in Washington have missed Japan’s emergence as a much more proactive player in upholding the international order.
Whether it be Japan’s strong advocacy of the U.N. Convention of the Law of the Sea; its assistance to regional countries in support of maritime domain awareness and coast guard capabilities; or its increasing voice about issues traditionally not directly tied to its own defense, like the future of Taiwan and Ukraine, Japan has found its groove. Today it is cooperating in “minilateral” formations that include Australia, the United Kingdom, India, the Republic of Korea and others. Arguably the shining example of this proactive Japan is its Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy that other countries — including the U.S. itself — adopted as their own.
Japan clearly takes its role as America’s ally seriously. It has been doing much domestically to enable a more proactive posture in all facets of national power. Given the history of “beiatsu,” Japan’s emergence over the past two decades to become a more willing and able partner to carry a larger burden in maintaining the international order is welcome.