China-Japan Dispute — The territorial dispute between China and Japan over an archipelago, known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan, is endangering a $340 billion trade relationship that has grown threefold over the past 10 years, reports Bloomberg. Thousands of Chinese protesters demonstrated in major cities across China and called for the boycott of Japanese products in the country, which is the biggest market for Japanese exports. The dispute, according to Bloomberg, complicates Beijing and Tokyo’s “efforts to fortify growth in Asia’s biggest economies as the European debt crisis saps demand for exports.”
Encouraging Attacks – An al-Qaeda affiliate in North Africa has urged Muslims to kill American government officials as retaliation for the spread of an American-made film that mocks the Prophet Mohammed, Reuters reports. The group also praised last week’s killing of Christopher Stevens, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, and urged Muslims to kill more representatives of the U.S. government or to drive them from the region as a means to avenge the Prophet’s honor. The film, Innocence of Muslims, has triggered several attacks on embassies worldwide and has lead to the death of at least 17 people.
Indonesia‘s Growing Wealth — Indonesia has one of the world’s fastest-growing pools of private wealth, notes the Wall Street Journal. Even though there has been a contraction in wealth in Asia and the rest of the world in 2012, the Southeast Asian nation bucked the trend, said wealth-research group Wealth-X. From 2011 to 2012 in Indonesia, “the combined value of wealth held by ultra-high-net-worth individuals–those whose wealth exceeds $30 million–soared 41.2% to $120 billion,” marking the highest growth rate of any of the 115 countries’ wealth pools measured in the Wealth-X report.
Czech Mate — The Czech Republic has banned the sale of hard liquor following the death of at least 20 people and dozens of serious injuries from the consumption of bootlegged spirits contaminated with methanol, said the New York Times. The deadly methanol poisonings in the Czech Republic have “raised questions about the effectiveness of European Union and Czech safeguards against bootleg alcohol, which has plagued the Czech market for decades,” it wrote. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the central European nation has the world’s second-highest rate of hard alcohol (liquor containing 20% or higher alcohol content) consumption, after Moldova.
Attacks on Iran? – A top atomic energy official in Iran has claimed that the country’s two main uranium enrichment facilities were targeted by explosions last month, the New York Times reports. The official, Fereydoon Abbasi, suggested that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) may have been responsible for the attacks, and he alleged that the agency has been infiltrated by “terrorists and saboteurs.” It is possible, according to Abbasi, that the United States and Israel was involved in the attacks. These accusations, which occurred at a speech at an IAEA conference in Vienna, come after Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, urged the Obama administration on Sunday to tighten its policy towards Iran’s nuclear programs.
Debt Settlement – North Korea and Russia have signed a debt deal that will eliminate 90% of Pyongyang’s obligations to Moscow, according to Reuters. It is estimated that North Korea owes Russia about $11 billion, a carryover from its relations with the Soviet Union. In return for debt forgiveness, Russian officials have said that they would like to invest in North Korea’s energy, health and education sectors, and have expressed ambitions of building a gas pipeline to South Korea, despite tensions between the two countries.