The influential former Japanese PM dies but the legacy of Yasuhiro Nakasone lives on
Sawako Utsumi and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Yasuhiro Nakasone finally passed away from this earth at the age of 101 but his political legacy remains strong in modern Japan. The former prime minister led Japan between 1982 and 1987 and belongs to the world of the Cold War and this nation finding itself internationally.
He met powerful foreign leaders during his time in office, too many to mention. However, this includes Hu Yaobang of China, Helmut Kohl of Germany, Ronald Reagan of the United States, and Margaret Thatcher of the United Kingdom. Therefore, Nakasone belongs to a very powerful period in world history that seemed more certain based on the divisions of the Cold War.
Reuters reports, “Known for his “Ron and Yasu” friendship with Reagan, Nakasone made headlines after taking office when he said that in event of a war, he would make Japan an unsinkable “aircraft carrier” for U.S. forces and bottle up the Soviet navy.”
Indeed, nationalist sentiments and the need for Japan to modernize and strengthen its military capability meant much to Nakasone. Thus, the unwritten military rule of maintaining the defense budget within the confines of 1 percent became obsolete. Likewise, he made a visit to Yasukuni Shrine that enraged sentiments in several nations, notably China and South Korea.
Despite this, the same Nakasone visited South Korea to mend the wounds of history. Similarly, he held important talks with Hu Yaobang of the Chinese Communist Party. Hence, Nakasone fully understood the boundaries of history, while believing in the need to create a society that was proud of its culture and traditions.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe uttered, “I can’t help but feel deeply sad. Together with the rest of Japan, I offer my heartfelt condolences.”
Abe continued, “He played an important role in maintaining world peace and economic stability, and greatly advanced Japan’s international standing.”
NHK reports, “After his retirement from political circles, Nakasone served as the head of a think tank for national security and international exchange, and continued to speak out on domestic affairs and diplomacy.”
Overall, all politicians’ leave a legacy that is divided based on individuals viewing the world through the prism of the ideals they hold. Yet, he held firm to the convictions that he held to be true. Also, in Abe, the current leader of Japan, the legacy of Nakasone is abundantly clear. Therefore, from the height of the Cold War, coming to terms with the 1985 Plaza Accord, privatization programs, and modernizing the military, he faced these momentous challenges head-on and guided Japan with enormous convictions.
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