PM Lee says former prime minister Nakasone was one of Japan's great leaders and Singapore's good friend

Then Japanese Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro (right) with Mr Lee Kuan Yew prior to their meeting in Tokyo, on Oct 16, 1986.
Then Japanese Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro (right) with Mr Lee Kuan Yew prior to their meeting in Tokyo, on Oct 16, 1986.PHOTO: ST FILE

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

PM Lee praised Mr Nakasone Yasuhiro 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," PM Lee 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," PM Lee said, according to a press statement by Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs released on Monday (Dec 2).

PM 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.

"His legacy lives on, with Japan building on that foundation and continuing to be a strong supporter and partner of Asean," PM Lee said.

PM Lee also said the former premier was a good friend of Singapore, and a personal friend of founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.

"He met Mr Lee on a visit to Singapore in May 1983, and reciprocated the hospitality when Mr Lee visited Japan in October 1986. Mr Lee found his direct and forthright exchanges with prime minister Nakasone to be refreshing," he said.

"Their strong personal relationship contributed to the firm foundation underpinning our strong bilateral ties today," he added.


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

PM Less said: "I was privileged to meet prime minister Nakasone several times. The first occasion was in 1985, when I attended a meeting between Asean and Japanese trade ministers in Tokyo, and he hosted the visiting ministers to lunch. 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."

Mr Nakasone Yasuhiro will be deeply remembered by Singapore, he added.