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Some 57 hours and 39 minutes: That was the amount of time that two Chinese Coast Guard vessels spent in Japan’s territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands earlier this week. The vessels entered to engage a Japanese fishing boat and remained after the Japanese Coast Guard attempted to intervene. It is the longest stretch of time that Chinese Coast Guard vessels have stayed in the territorial waters around the Senkakus, sparking protest from Tokyo.

While this may seem like a minor event in the grand scheme of international conflict, the incident represents two critical things: The first is advancement towards the next step in China’s Senkaku Islands strategy and the second is a test of the newly-minted Yoshihide Suga administration.

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