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JAPAN'S PLAN TO CURB ONLINE CONTENT ON MAKING GUNS AND CHINESE MILITARY ACTIVITY ESCALATES IN THE TAIWAN STRAIT

December 21-27, 2023 | Issue 46 - PACOM

Chloe Woodbine, Vivan Negi, Kiara Alexander, Maria M Laka, Lydia Baccino, Victoria Valová

Christina Valdez, Editor; Elena Alice Rossetti, Radhika Ramalinga Venkatachalam, Senior Editor


Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe[1]


Date: December 21, 2023

Location: Japan

Parties involved: Japan; former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; Japan’s central coordinating law enforcement agency, National Police Agency (NPA); Japanese gun owners; online media platforms and forums; VPN services

The event: On December 21, the NPA announced the implementation of a plan to curb the incitement of unlawful gun possession through online content. This plan comes as a response to the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with a homemade gun in 2022. The NPA aims to penalize those who spread content that promotes unlawful gun ownership or manufacturing instructions. They are considering tougher penalties on handmade gun possession intended to harm individuals.[2]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The plan will very likely have an immediate deterrent effect on individuals who engage in low-level or sporadic activities inciting unlawful possession, as they will likely reconsider their actions in response to the communicated legal consequences. With reduced low-level incitement, law enforcement will likely strategically allocate more resources for targeted efforts, such as monitoring online platforms to identify and remove unlawful gun manufacturing and ownership-related content. These efforts will likely include focusing on higher-risk individuals or addressing more complex aspects of the issue such as evolving the technological capabilities to stay ahead of offenders’ advanced technological tactics and enhancing overall operational efficiency.

  • The restrictions alone will unlikely eliminate all instances of incitement related to the unlawful possession of guns online because of the continuous evolution of methods for disseminating such information. Individuals will very likely incorporate sophisticated strategies to gain and spread this information, such as using VPNs to access restricted sites or distributing printed manuals to circumvent the limitations. The NPA will likely collaborate with online media platforms and forum owners to understand the file upload algorithms to detect more elusive uploads.


Date: December 23, 2023

Location: Taiwan Strait

Parties involved: China; Chinese government; Chinese military; Taiwan; Taiwanese government; Taiwanese military; Taiwanese citizens; shipping companies

The event: Military activity escalated as eight Chinese fighter jets and a weather balloon crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait. Tensions between China and Taiwan are rising as the island approaches its presidential and parliamentary elections on January 13.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • China's escalation of military activities in the Taiwan Strait is likely a geopolitical maneuver and a psychological tactic, serving as a likely prelude to the challenges of the new Taiwanese government. China likely aims to assert its regional influence through a strategic display of power and challenge the incoming leadership in Taiwan that might seek increased autonomy. The Chinese display of military power will likely enhance security concerns in the current Taiwanese political pre-electoral climate. These concerns will likely increase the winning government's difficulties in shaping political dynamics, policy priorities, and the overall discourse surrounding cross-strait relations.

  • China will very likely continue signaling its military capabilities to influence the election results through gray-zone activities in the Taiwan Strait, which will unlikely disrupt the frequented shipping routes as this would be disconcerting to the global supply chain. The increase in Chinese military activities will unlikely hinder commercial shipping, likely based on the negative implications this interruption would have on the Chinese economy. Heightened tensions in the region have very likely prompted companies shipping through the Taiwan Strait to include contract-specific force majeure clauses in their commercial contracts, which free both parties of their obligations in the event of a military confrontation.


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[1] “Photo of Shinzo Abe” by Japanese Cabinet Secretariat PR Office licensed under Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 International

[2] Japanese police to restrict online posts on making guns, The Japan Times, December 2023, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2023/12/21/japan/japanese-police-restrict-online-posts-making-guns/

[3] Taiwan says eight Chinese fighter jets crossed strait’s median line, Channel NewsAsia, December 2023, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/asia/taiwan-says-eight-chinese-fighter-jets-crossed-straits-median-line-4009146

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