Politics can't be changed by a dog howling in the distance. Politics means getting within a sword's reach. - Nakasone.
Nakasone was the 58th prime minister of Japan
, and a leader of one of the most conservative
factions of the Japanese LDP
Born on May 27, 1918 in Gumma Prefecture outside Tokyo. He attended Tokyo Imperial University (now the University of Tokyo) and was commissioned as a naval officer during World War II. Shortly before the end of the war, he left the navy and entered the Naimusho, Ministry of Home Affairs.
He was elected to the Diet's House of Representatives in 1946, and gained his first fifteen minutes of notoriety in 1952 by publicly blaming Hirohito for Japan's defeat in the war. Nakasone subsequently joined the LDP and was appointed to the cabinet of Prime Minister Kishi Nobusuke in 1959. He shuffled through several cabinet posts over the next two decades, including Minister of Defense, Minister of Science and Technology, and Minister of International Trade and Industry, slowly winning over the support of the LDP's leadership, especially controversial prime minister and kingmaker Tanaka Kakuei. Tanaka's grassroots movement was responsible for placing several prime ministers in power during the late 1970's and early 1980's, including Miki Takeo and Suzuki Zenko. Nakasone's turn came, and he was elected prime minister in 1982.
Nakasone was just as conservative as his contemporaries, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, and he made that clear through his policy making. He is most remembered in Japanese historical accounts for privatizing JR, the country's parastatal railway system. He also worked toward fiscal reform, pushing legislation to curb the issuance of deficit bonds.
"Yasu-chan"'s greatest achievements, for many, were in the international arena. His ideological ties to Reagan helped strengthen U.S.-Japan relations during the 1980's. Japan under Nakasone also grew closer to the People's Republic of China, and to this day will not admit under any circumstances that Taiwan is a country, or anything approacing a country for that matter. Nakasone also opened a dialogue with Mikhail Gorbachev in an effort to end the dispute over Japanese claims in the Kuril Islands.
His administration was not without its controversies and scandals. In 1985, he became the first prime minister to make an official visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, where Japan's war dead are enshrined. The media fury over the Yasukuni visit was soon overshadowed by the Recruit Scandal of 1988, when it was revealed that the Recruit Corporation offered several politicians, including Nakasone, shares of its subsidiaries before they were offered on the public market. He was succeeded by Takeshita Noboru in 1987, before the scandal had time to fully mature, which helped somewhat in saving his political career.
Nakasone is now the chairman of the Tokyo-based Institute for International Policy Studies, his cover for advising modern-day LDP bigwigs on foreign affairs. His eldest son, Nakasone Hirofumi, is a member of the House of Councillors and served on the cabinet of Prime Minister Obuchi Keizo.
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