Yasuhiro Nakasone Biography
Sun Sign: Gemini
Also Known As: Yasuhiro
Born Country: Japan
Born in: Suehirocho, Takasaki, Gunma, Japan
Famous as: Former Prime Minister of Japan
Spouse/Ex-: Tsutako Nakasone (m. 1945–2012)
father: Matsugorō Nakasone
children: Hirofumi Nakasone
place of death: Tokyo, Japan
Notable Alumni: Shizuoka University, University Of Tokyo
education: Gunma Prefecture Takasaki High School, The University of Tokyo, Shizuoka University
Yasuhiro Nakasone was a Japanese politician who was the Prime Minister of Japan, as well as the President of the Liberal Democratic Party, from 1982 to 1987. He was a member of the House of Representatives for nearly six decades. A nationalist who "stood vacantly amid the ruins" upon his return to Tokyo following Second World War in August 1945, he focused his political efforts in bolstering Japan's Self-Defence Force and to revive Japanese patriotism. During his term, he improved relationships with foreign countries like China, Korea, Philippines, and also the United States, with which he sought a more equal relationship. Some of his achievements include the introduction of American nuclear power plant technologies to Japan and the privatization of state-owned companies like Japan National Railways. However, he failed at amending the Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution that forbade war to settle international disputes, could not fully implement his educational reforms due to criticism, and was ousted while attempting to introduce a value added tax. He lived for more than 101 years.
- Yasuhiro Nakasone was born on May 27, 1918, in Takasaki in the mountainous Gunma Prefecture, north of Tokyo, Japan, to Nakasone Matsugoro II and Nakamura Yuku. His father ran a successful timber business when post-First World War Japan was rebuilding itself.
- The third of six children, he had an elder brother named Kichitaro, an elder sister named Shoko, a younger brother named Ryosuke, and two more siblings who did not survive childhood. He was a happy, quiet and easy-going child, who performed poorly at the local primary school until fourth grade but later came at the top of his class.
- In 1935, he entered Shizuoka High School, where he was a distinguished student of history and literature, and learned to speak French fluently. He enrolled at the Tokyo Imperial University (now University of Tokyo) in the autumn of 1938 and graduated from there in 1941.
- He served as a commissioned officer and paymaster in the Imperial Japanese Navy during the Second World War from 1941 to 1945. He returned to Tokyo in August 1945, after Japan's surrender, and joined the Tokyo Police Department.
- Yasuhiro Nakasone, who feared that Japan might discard its traditional values following its defeat in the war, abandoned his promising career in an elite government ministry in 1947 to run for Parliament. His nationalist campaign focusing on strengthening Japan’s self-defense system and amendment of the pacifist Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution won him a seat, making him the youngest Diet (parliament) member at 28.
- A leading Liberal Democratic Party member, he established himself as a right-wing politician after criticizing the US occupation of Japan in a 28-page letter to General MacArthur, the de-facto ruler of Japan, in 1951. The next year, he briefly gained notoriety for blaming Emperor Hirohito for Japan's defeat in the war.
- In 1955, he was instrumental in convincing the government to grant more than 5 billion yen (then about $14 million) to the Agency for Industrial Science and Technology to begin nuclear power research. He rose quickly through the ranks of the LDP and got his first Cabinet post as director-general of the former Science and Technology Agency under Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi in 1959.
- He successfully retained his seat in the parliament in later years and held several different cabinet posts. He became Minister of Transport in 1967, was the Director General of the Japan Defense Agency in 1970-71, the Minister of International Trade and Industry in 1972 and the Minister of Administration in 1981.
- He wanted Japan to develop tactical nuclear weapons and as the head of the Self-Defence Force, raised the defense budget above the 1 percent GDP threshold. In 1972, he helped Kakuei Tanaka win the leadership election by switching support from Takeo Fukuda, for which he was labeled "the weathervane".
- In 1982, Yasuhiro Nakasone became LDP secretary-general, and with Tanaka's support, won the premiership race to become the Prime Minister of Japan. He and his Minister of Foreign Affairs Shintaro Abe, father of current Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, immediately focused on improving relationships with foreign countries.
- He shared a cordial relationship with US President Ronald Reagan, often labeled as the 'Ron-Yasu' friendship, and had created controversy in 1983 for describing Japan as an "unsinkable aircraft carrier" for the US forces. The same year, he became the first Japanese premier to officially visit South Korea, which was colonized by Japan from 1910 to 1945.
- He visited China in 1984 to commemorate the twelfth anniversary of Japan's diplomatic recognition of the People's Republic. He also had a series of talks with Filipino President Corazon Aquino regarding good economic and trade relations in 1986-87.
- He introduced sweeping economic reformd by privatizing Japan National Railways, resulting in 80,000 redundancies, and appointed Haruo Maekawa, the former Bank of Japan governor, to head the newly-formed economic commission in 1985. When the commission recommended that Japan should focus on foreign imports rather than export, he bought an American tennis racket, an Italian tie and a French shirt during a heavily promoted shopping trip in 1986.
- He was the first post-war prime minister to visit the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in full mourning dress on August 15, 1985, a symbolic move that was criticized both at home and abroad. He courted controversy again in September 1986 after he claimed that the average American intelligence level was lower compared to Japan due to "problematic" immigrant groups like Puerto Ricans and Blacks.
- Just as he had failed to amend Article 9, his attempt at educational reform to inculcate "a spirit of patriotism" among children was also vehemently opposed by the teachers' union. After he attempted to introduce a value added tax to compensate for the budget deficit, he was forced to resign by Noboru Takeshita in 1987.
- In 1988, he was one of the LDP lawmakers to be implicated in the Recruit scandal, following which his political influence waned rapidly. Nevertheless, he remained a member of the Diet until 2003 when an age limit of 73 years was introduced, ending his career.
- On February 11, 1945, Yasuhiro Nakasone married Tsutako Nakasone, with whom he shared a 67-year-long conjugal partnership until her death in 2012. They had three children, including Hirofumi Nakasone, who has served as Minister of Education and as Minister of Foreign Affairs.
- He died at the age of 101 years and 186 days on November 29, 2019, in Tokyo, as the second oldest Prime Minister of Japan after Naruhiko Higashikuni, who lived for 102 years, 48 days. At the time, he was also the oldest living former state leader in the world.
- He believed in the nihonjinron theory that claimed that Japan was unique and was influenced by the philosopher Tetsuro Watsuji in his belief in special Japanese compassion. He stated in 1986 that Japan should spread its "monsoon culture" abroad.
- Yasuhiro Nakasone's family claims to be the direct descendants of the famous Minamoto no Yoshimitsu and his son Minamoto no Yoshikiyo of the Minamoto clan. Members of the family served as samurai during the Edo period.
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