We must learn from and apply the accomplishments of President Reagan. The Soviet Union, which once boasted a centralized nuclear military and command economy, collapsed and was barely able to rule across the nation since it became Russia. With reform and opening policies by Deng Xiaoping, it should be seen that the totalitarian regime of China also tried to melt and gave way to liberalized economic forces.
Led by these two countries, however, the former Communist Bloc has re-emerged with aggressive authoritarian states with global ambitions, and it now challenges freedom throughout Asia, Africa and even countries in the Western Hemisphere. Since they are craftily avoiding open clashes with the Western Bloc, the seriousness of this situation is not yet widely understood. But the far-reaching, post-Cold War goal that President Reagan had seen is still alive and must grow. This urgent situation requires that we must ally globally against infringement of freedoms by these authoritarian states.
Winning the Struggle Against Creeping Authoritarianism in Asia
Freedom of religion is especially in peril, not only in China but elsewhere in Asia. According to World Watch List 2018 — in which Open Doors annually analyzes 50 countries where persecution against Christianity is particularly intense — North Korea has ranked in the worst place for 17 consecutive years and recently racked up 94 points out of 100. The second worst nation for religious persecution, with 93 points, is Afghanistan, also in Asia.
The situations even in India, Turkey and Nepal continue to worsen. The Open Doors organization points out that persecution in countries in South and Southeast Asia “rapidly rose to unprecedented levels.”
North Korea, which is most oppressive toward Christians, also violates basic human rights and the security of the person quite seriously. Otto Warmbier, a student at the University of Virginia in the United States, passed away in June 2017 as a result of inhumane confinement and torture. He had been detained during the trip to North Korea and was returned home in a coma a year and half later.
Abduction of 17 Japanese is also officially confirmed by the Japanese government, but 12 of them have still not returned to Japan yet. There are at least 100 more missing Japanese who are suspected to be snatched by North Korea. The Prime Minister’s office of Japan is firmly holding, “there is absolutely no possibility of normalizing relations with North Korea unless the abductions of Japanese citizens have been settled.”
Moreover, North Korean workers who protested their government with sit-ins were run over and killed by tanks at the Fanfe ironworks in 1998, and imprisoned defectors were sexually assaulted by prison senior officers and forced to undergo abortion surgery. The United Nations Human Rights Office in Seoul has already gathered testimonies from over 250 people on human rights violations by North Korea and will report to the United Nations Human Rights Council in March 2019.
These horrifying infringements of economic, spiritual and physical freedom by a state government are inherent in an authoritarian regime that is obsessed with its own security: By its very nature, authoritarianism lacks the democratic legitimacy of support by the majority of the people. It is also why authoritarian leaders stand on self-serving, narrow-minded values and do not permit freedom of speech, assembly, press and religion.
The people in these countries are brutally restrained because if the leaders recognized the freedom and human rights of their nation’s people, the legitimacy of the system would be dissolved.
The world has already entered a new era of competition between the systems of democracy and authoritarianism. The primary moral and geopolitical question for free societies is how best to forge new and clearly motivated alliances at this historical junction.
Inherited Liberty in the United States and Asia
Asia has actually inherited the tradition of liberty, as same as the United States. The United States has its root of spirit in the Declaration of Independence, which protested against the rule by the Kingdom of Great Britain without political participation.
“A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”
Since the Age of Discovery, Asia had also been colonized by the European Powers. Malaysia and Philippine were occupied by Portugal and Spain in 15th and 16th centuries.
The European Powers first exploited them to make a profit through trades only at cities and the coast.
However, after the Industrial Revolution, the suzerains started to put broader inland under control in order to abuse as supplying districts of raw materials and huge market of finished goods. Forced change of economic structure then resulted in the decrease of paddy fields and increase of unemployed people. The South India starvation in 1877 killed 5 million people in the end. Just as is engraved in the Declaration of Independence, the history of the European Powers “is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.”
Japan has been the freedom lighthouse of Asia, although it once fell into militarism. The Meiji Restoration disintegrated the Tokugawa Dynasty and Modern Japan was born, but it still had a tendency of dictatorship. The Diet of Japan, however, was founded by courageous people who sought liberty — who repelled tax without representation, as cherished in the Boston Tea Party. This is called the Jiyu-Minken Movement and value Japanese should conserve its value.
Now again, our battlefield over liberty is laid in this Asian Continent, succeeding the Atlantic Ocean. The fires of liberty is still young in Asia and need to be preserved by fellows in the United States over the Pacific Ocean.
The U.S.-Japan Alliance Based on Morality
The source of hope in Asia where authoritarianism is spreading is the alliance of conscientious persons and their governments based on universal human rights, grounded in the rule of law and supported by civil society, including the media.
The United States has taught the nobility of liberty to Japan. During World War II, a grievous history lies between the two countries. Many Japanese-Americans forfeited their property and were sent to internment camps. However, decades later, President Reagan and Congress enacted the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 and paid compensation of $20,000 each to all surviving compulsory detainees and founded a $ 1.25 billion education fund. This was the exact manifestation of moral will to uphold the security of the person and property rights.
Also, in 1942, after the war broke out, Colorado’s Republican Gov. Ralph Lawrence Carr resolutely opposed the internment and loss of liberty for innocent Japanese-Americans. His public position damaged him politically, but Carr’s righteous and principled stance still illuminates the way that we should walk — there are still many examples of authoritarian oppression, infringement of human rights and violations of personal property.
In Japan, there once was a government official named Chiune Sugihara. He served as a diplomatic vice-consul assigned to Lithuania, and during the war, and even disobeying orders from the home government, he continued to issue visas to Jews who were trying to escape from Nazis. It is said that Sugihara saved no fewer than 6,000 people, and today he is called the “Oriental Oskar Schindler.”
Cherishing the pride of Sugihara, we Japanese conservatives are determined to ally with Americans who seek to preserve the courageous morality and commitment to universal principles of freedom and human rights of President Reagan and Governor Carr and to establish freedom for all peoples throughout the continent of Asia.