Japan’s former conservative Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, who led the country’s post-World War II politics in the 1980s, died at the age of 101 on Friday.
Kyodo News and NHK reported that Nakasone passed away at around 7:22 a.m. Friday at a hospital in Tokyo where he was treated.
As prime minister for five years from November 1982 to November 1987, Nakasone executed powerful leadership, pushing for domestic reforms including the privatization of the country’s state-run railway and tobacco companies and measures to rebuild finance without tax increases. Nakasone was in office for a total of 1,806 days, which is the fifth longest tenure of Japan’s prime ministers following those of Shinzo Abe and Eisaku Sato. Having served 20 terms at the House of Representatives, Nakasone retired from politics in 2003.
While he was one of Tokyo’s leading conservative politicians, Nakasone also made efforts to improve the bilateral relationship with South Korea. He was deeply involved in the normalization of diplomatic ties between the two countries in the early 1960s, and also chose to visit South Korea in 1983 in his first trip abroad as prime minister. He was the first Japanese leader who expressed regret over Japan’s past colonization of South Korea by acknowledging that there was unpleasant history between the two countries and saying that Japan should take the matter seriously. During his stay in Seoul, he even delivered a speech in Korean, which he had been learning through courses provided by NHK, according to his latest book.