Nakasone one of Japan's great leaders, says PM Lee

Former Japanese prime minister Yasuhiro Nakasone died at the age of 101 on Nov 29.
Former Japanese prime minister Yasuhiro Nakasone died at the age of 101 on Nov 29.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has sent a condolence letter to Mr Hirofumi Nakasone, Japan's Member of the House of Councillors, on the death of his father, former prime minister Yasuhiro Nakasone.

Mr Lee praised the former prime minister as one of Japan's great leaders. "During his term in office, he pursued important economic reforms, such as the privatisation of national railways, telecommunications and tobacco industries, and left a lasting legacy in Japan," he said in his letter dated Nov 30.

"He was also an international statesman. As PM, he strengthened Japan's alliance with the US, and maintained Japan's relations with China on an even keel. This contributed to stability and peace in Asia during the Cold War years," Mr Lee said, according to a press statement by Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs released yesterday.

Mr Lee noted that Mr Nakasone also played an important role in fostering closer relations between Asean and Japan.

He visited all five Asean countries in 1983 - early in his term. He was prime minister from 1982 to 1987.

Mr Nakasone was a good friend of Singapore, and a personal friend of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

"Mr Lee found his direct and forthright exchanges with Prime Minister Nakasone to be refreshing," PM Lee said, adding that "their strong personal relationship contributed to the firm foundation underpinning our strong bilateral ties today".

"I am saddened to learn of the passing of your beloved father," PM Lee told Mr Hirofumi Nakasone. The former prime minister died at the age of 101, Japanese officials said on Nov 29.

PM Lee had met the older Mr Nakasone several times.

  • 1983 The year then Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone visited all five Asean countries.

"The last occasion was about 10 years ago, when he had long retired, but was still active in his foundation and tracking international affairs as closely and astutely as ever," he said.

Mr Nakasone will be deeply remembered by Singapore, Mr Lee added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2019, with the headline 'Nakasone one of Japan's great leaders, says PM Lee'. Print Edition | Subscribe