Former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, a political titan who spanned eras, dies at 101

REIJI YOSHIDA – NOVember 29, 2019

Yasuhiro Nakasone, the 101-year-old former prime minister who strengthened Japan’s military alliance with the United States and privatized the Japanese National Railways (JNR) in the 1980s, died Friday, the Liberal Democratic Party said.

Nakasone was one of a handful of Japanese politicians dubbed yōkai (monster) due to their lengthy political careers and powerful influence. He served as prime minister from 1982 to 1987, when Japan was emerging as a new economic power, leading to trade frictions with the U.S.

Former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone speaks at a hotel in Tokyo in July 2018. | KYODO

A former officer of the Imperial Japanese Navy and native of Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture, he challenged a number of political postwar taboos, based on his conservative political creeds.

Nakasone called for a revision of the U.S.-drafted postwar Constitution, promoted the introduction of commercial nuclear power plants and built closer military ties with Washington.

“Mr. Nakasone took the helm of this country at a turning point of the postwar era, taking heavy responsibilities as the prime minister for five years,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a statement Friday.

“It was a time when Japan was in severe situations both at home and abroad, such as the East-West military confrontation and the rise of Japan-U.S. trade frictions,” he pointed out.

“I cannot help but feel deep sorrow upon receiving the news of his death,” he said.

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