The former PM of Japan, Yasuhiro Nakasone, passed away at 101 years old in Tokyo. (Image via Al Jazeera)

Remembering Prime Minister Nakasone, passing away at 101

On Friday, an official from a top ruling party announced the passing away of the former Prime Minister of Japan, Yasuhiro Nakasone, at 101 years old at a hospital in Tokyo.

Known as one of the Japanese PMs with the longest reigns, Nakasone was well known for his straight-to-the-point style and his close friendship with the 40th President of the United States (U.S), Ronald Reagan. Nakasone also joined the Japanese Navy Force during WWII, witnessing the utter defeat of his country.

Born on 27 May 1918, the last year of WWI, Nakasone entered Tokyo Imperial University before serving in the Interior Ministry and then the Navy Force. During his service in Navy Force, Nakasone rose to Lieutenant Commander in WWII, and he lost his brother in the war.

Yasuhiro Nakasone became the PM of Japan from 1982 until 1987. As the PM, Nakasone once also hoped to reform the post-war, pacifist constitution of Japan to make clear the ambiguous status of the Japanese military.

However, Nakasone admitted in an interview in 2010 that he failed to do it. Furthermore, the former PM also said that the reformation was necessary, but the process was slacking. Until now, the current PM of Japan, Shinzo Abe, told that the cut of the U.S-drafted constitution will be the key objective. However, regarding Article Nine, the reformation remains contentious.

In the 1950s, Nakasone was the proposer of the idea of building nuclear power plants and nuclear research, a decisive factor that also pushed Japan’s economy forward. The former PM pointed out that if once nuclear had devastated Japan, then it had become cattle.

However, since the 2011 Fukushima meltdown, the idea drew fresh, strident criticisms.

One year after he became the PM, Nakasone became the first Japanese PM to visit South Korea (S. Korea), to mend the bilateral relations between the two countries, especially after Japan’s brutal invasion on the Korean Peninsula in 1910 – 1945.

Nakasone panned backlashes from Asian countries when he visited Yasukuni Shrine, a shrine known to honor war criminals along with the war heroes, on the 40th anniversary of Japan’s surrender. Therefore, he did not make any temple visit to Yasukuni anymore.

However, Nakasone’s reign was clouded by his scandal and his too straight-forwardness.

In 1986, the former PM triggered the African-American, Puerto Ricans, and Mexicans living in the U.S by saying that the immigrants only brought down the Americans’ intelligence.

During his reign, Japan’s economy did not develop that much and the same could also be said to its education. Nakasone tried to privatize domestic industries but failed to set a landmark on how it could affect Japan’s economic growth. Meanwhile, he also tried to merge traditional values and discipline while preparing the Japanese youngsters to compete globally but to no avail.

Nakasone won the fifth reelection as the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) after leading the party to win the 1986 election by a landslide. However, in 1989, Nakasone resigned due to scandals, only to return in 1991, as a senior advisor.

In 2003, Nakasone, who was 85 years old, was forced to retire by also the former PM of Japan, Junichiro Koizumi, who wanted to give way for the young politicians.

Nakasone was unhappy by Koizumi’s action, referring to Koizumi as discriminative and lacking respect for the elders. Then, he made a haiku for Koizumi that was later reread on his 100th anniversary that described his fiery spirit.

Nakasone was a father to one son, the Japanese politician Hirofumi Nakasone, and two daughters. He also had three grandchildren.