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From Japan to America, sharing common principles of conservatism at CPAC 2019

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As the Conservative Political Action Conference opens this week, President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will be sitting down in Vietnam for another round of talks aimed at stopping the rogue nation’s nuclear program and missile testing. Almost simultaneously, the Trump administration continues its trade negotiations with China. All of these events have international implications, not only for the U.S. but also for the world, particularly my home country of Japan.

Having participated in CPAC, the largest U.S. gathering of conservatives, for several years, I was inspired to form the Japanese Conservative Union in 2015 as a base from which to advance philosophical conservatism in Japan and throughout Asia. Despite the cultural differences, Japanese and American conservatives share a commitment to national security and sovereignty, economic prosperity unimpeded by excessive taxation and regulation, and strong families. These same values were championed by President Ronald Reagan, an early partner of the American Conservative Union in advancing the case for conservatism on the world stage.

{mosads}In 1983, Reagan addressed the Japanese Diet in Tokyo, marking a historic time for the conservative partnership between the U.S. and Japan. Reagan said, “America and Japan are situated far apart, but we are united in our belief that freedom means dedication to the dignity, rights, and equality of man.” This forms the foundation of the U.S.-Japanese conservative alliance as well. Our pursuit of freedom depends on our belief in the underlying sovereignty of the human person, and by extension, of nations. This commitment to individual freedom, in turn, is the basis for our shared belief in a strong national defense and economic self-determination.

We in Japan are all too aware of the challenge China poses to the security and national sovereignty of countries in our region and around the world. In recent years, China has flexed its military muscles by sending ships and aircraft into the Sea of Japan and building islands and military installations in the South China Sea. This neighborhood bully has engaged in economic aggression as well, launching cyber attacks against the U.S. and other countries, theft of intellectual property, and predatory trade practices. On this last point, especially, China’s Xi Jinping seems to have run into a brick wall in the person of President Donald Trump, who has shown that he is not afraid to challenge China’s longstanding trade strategy.

At the same time, North Korea, though less belligerent since Trump’s diplomatic efforts, still poses a threat as a likely nuclear power. I suppose we in Japan should take comfort in the fact that, at least for the time being, North Korean test missiles are no longer being launched over our heads. We will watch the Trump-Kim summit this week with great interest and hope for a successful outcome, but Kim’s longstanding behavior reminds us of the need for strong defense partnerships with our allies.

Ronald Reagan knew and communicated so well the truth of “Peace through Strength.” A strong U.S.-Japan alliance, particularly at this time in our history, is critical to the preservation of peace and liberty in the Indo-Pacific and around the world. I look forward to participating once again in CPAC, where these important issues and the values we share will be discussed.

Jay Aeba is the Chairman of the Japanese Conservative Union.

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