During the Cold War, President Ronald Reagan declared that “the real crisis we face today is … a test of moral will and faith.” Then-Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone fully supported that vision, saying that he would work to make Japan an “unsinkable aircraft carrier” to help defend the alliance. This vital relationship and shared vision in the 1980s played a huge role in the collapse of the Soviet Union — the “Evil Empire” — without a single bullet being fired.
Today, a similar but even more dangerous menace — state capitalism — is creeping up on us again, largely hidden from the public eye. Unlike the Communist bloc during the Cold War, which fought fiercely but openly against the Western powers, state capitalism today is trying to broaden its influence stealthily, in darkness, below the threshold of open hostilities.
That silent menace is why I founded the Pacific Alliance Institute in Japan and wrote about it for the Washington Times. Principled fellows, leaders, organizations, academics and the media of the United States, there is a great need for an enduring commitment to the institutions of a free society and a vigorous rejection of intolerable violations of international law and human rights. This war is a war over opposing world views and operating systems.
Where contradictory world views silently clash
Led by an emerging China, along with its client states across Asia, an aggressive and state-sponsored strategic effort is being implemented to systematically eliminate religion and to infringe on private property rights.
One of China’s largest underground churches, Zion Church, which 1,500 faithful attend every Sunday and which has long operated in the heart of Beijing, was forcibly closed by the Chinese Communist government in September and “illegal publicity material” related to the church was confiscated. Such aggressive attacks on faith communities continue throughout China. Party leaders in Henan have burned crosses and Bibles, and Christian parents are under continual pressure to remove their children from certain schools or face a loss of government and community benefits.
Freedom of religion is in peril, not just in China but all across in Asia. According to World Watch List 2018 — in which the activist organization Open Doors annually analyzes 50 countries where persecution against Christianity is particularly intense — North Korea for the past 17 years has ranked the lowest in religious tolerance, with Afghanistan a close second.
What protects our autonomy and faith in God is economic freedom, a freedom based on private property system. Intellectual property rights are critical to the international competitiveness of the leading developed countries, especially the United States and Japan. The U.S. in 2017 ranked first in the world in the balance of charges it earned for the use of its intellectual property innovations.
But updated figures from the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property estimate that “the annual cost to the U.S. economy continues to exceed $225 billion from counterfeit goods, pirated software, and theft of trade secrets,” and that the losses could be as high as $600 billion. The problem is particularly acute with regards to China and Hong Kong, which accounted for 87 percent of all seized counterfeit goods in 2015.
Law enforcement officials like FBI Director Christopher Wray warn that intellectual property theft is aided by the control that foreign state-controlled companies have over the U.S. telecommunication infrastructure. We cannot accept those malicious interventions, especially as national 5G communication systems are now being prepared and installed over the world. The coming 5G revolution is seen as key to next-generation industries such as drones and driverless cars.
Japan, a country that once fell for the allure of militarism, has actually been a lighthouse for freedom in Asia. After the Meiji Restoration ended the Tokugawa Dynasty and ushered in modern Japan, the Diet of Japan was established by courageous people who sought liberty — rejecting taxation without representation in exactly the same way protesting American colonists did at the Boston Tea Party. The Diet was the first national assembly in Asia, based on a Japanese tradition of liberty called the Jiyu-Minken Movement that unfortunately has not been taught enough in schools today.
The Pacific Alliance Institute is the sole think tank that embraces the principles of the Jiyu-Minken Movement and seeks to apply them to roll back the threat of state capitalism. Given this historical context, we have built close relationship with U.S. groups such as Americans for Tax Reform and the Heritage Foundation. The Pacific Alliance Institute co-hosts with Americans for Tax Reform an annual international conference with some 200 attendees, and supports the Heritage Foundation’s effort to compile and distribute its Index of Economic Freedom in Japan.
Grover Norquist, president of the Americans for Tax Reform, came to speak at our conference last year and then-Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois spoke via video to the Japanese audience on the importance of freedom.
To quote President Reagan once again, “I urge you to beware the temptation of pride — the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault … and thereby remov[ing] … yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.” Please lend a hand to conserve the essential pillars for the foundation of human civilization — religious freedom and private property ownership — by supporting Pacific Alliance Institute.
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