Influential ex-prime minister of Japan dies at the age of 101
Robie de Guzman • November 29, 2019 • 317
Tokyo – Former Japanese prime minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, considered one of the most influential post-war leaders in the country, died on Friday at the age of 101, public broadcaster NHK reported.
The conservative politicians ruled Japan between 1982 and 1987, and during his tenure established closer defense ties with the United States and strengthened Japan’s position as one of the biggest economic powers worldwide.
Nakasone, who had participated in World War II as an officer of the Imperial Japanese Navy, died in the early hours of Friday at a Tokyo hospital, sources close to the family told media.
Known internationally for his proximity to former US president Ronald Reagan, the Japanese leader was one of the most respected political figures during the last few decades of the 20th century.
During his term, Nakasone focused on strengthening national defense capabilities of Japan through a bilateral agreement with the US and backed a reform of the pacifist article of the Japanese constitution which limits powers of the self-defense force (military).
His stand led to fierce attacks from the opposition, which considered him a proponent of returning to the nationalist and militarist policies which pushed Japan into World War II.
In 1985, Nakasone provoked a diplomatic crisis with China by marking the 40th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in WW II by visiting the Yasukuni war shrine, which honors Japanese war casualties from the period between late 19th century and 1945, including 14 politicians and officers of the Imperial Army who were convicted as Class A war criminals by an international court after the end of the war.
The leader, who hailed from the central Gunma prefecture, also caused controversies by repeatedly making comments boasting of the superiority of the Japanese “race” and culture, and backing education policies that inculcate patriotism among Japanese students.
In the economic sphere, Nakasone spearheaded some of the largest privatization projects in the history of the country, including that of Japan National Railways, which was divided into seven private-sector regional operators.
Nakasone set a benchmark for the current generation of conservative Japanese politicians in power, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has also set the goals of extending military capabilities and amending the constitution to dilute its pacifist thrust as some of his top priorities.
The father of the current prime minister, Shintaro Abe, served as the minister of foreign affairs under Nakasone during his tenure.
Nakasone was forced to resign in 1987 after failing to get support for introducing a value added tax in an attempt to reduce public debt, and retired from politics in 2003, after a career spanning more than 50 years as a member of the parliament. EFE-EPA
Tokyo Olympics organizers expect to be able to use all the venues as originally planned at next year’s rearranged Games, several Japanese media outlets reported on Thursday (July 9).
Securing venues was a top priority for organisers after the Games were pushed back to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Kyodo and NHK, citing unnamed sources, said they were now confident they would be tied down for Olympics use again.
However, at his regular weekly news conference, Tokyo 2020 spokesman Masa Takaya said the reports were “optimistic” and that nothing had been announced.
Last month, Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said 80% of all venues needed had been secured, with the Athlete’s Village and Tokyo Big Sight, the planned media centre, among those yet to be fully secured.
Thursday’s reports also said the competition schedule would remain largely unchanged and that all tickets holders would be eligible for refunds, and that organisers would seek approval of these decisions from the IOC’s General Assembly on July 17.
Asked to confirm those details, Takaya said nothing had been decided and Tokyo 2020 did not expect to seek approval from the IOC next week. (Reuters)
People in southwestern Japan were busy cleaning up on Wednesday (July 8) following the aftermath of torrential rain that has pounded the area since the weekend killing dozens of people in floods and landslides.
In Hitoyoshi, a severe flood of the Kumagawa River destroyed houses along the riverbanks. Ruined home appliances and furniture lined local streets, while residents shovelled mud and bagged garbage. An excavator worked to clear debris.
As of Wednesday, 59 people have been confirmed dead, including 18 in Hitoyoshi. Seventeen people remain missing.
Meanwhile, the heavy rain moved into central Japan’s Nagano and Gifu prefectures. The country’s meteorological agency issued a heavy rain emergency in the two prefectures early Wednesday but downgraded the alert to a warning later in the day.
Water levels of rivers in the region were seen rising and officials are telling residents to stay vigilant. (Reuters)
Japan warned of more heavy rain on the southwestern island of Kyushu on Tuesday (July 7) as the death toll in flood-hit areas reached at least 50, with more than a dozen people reported missing.
“The ground formation has weakened from the rain. We fear there may be landslides even if it rains slightly. I ask residents to please be on alert for information released by local offices and watch out for rivers flooding,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a regular news briefing, urging people to take the necessary precautions to ensure their safety.
Japan on Monday (July 6) issued a heavy rain emergency warning in three prefectures on Kyushu, including Nagasaki, Saga and Fukuoka but officials have downgraded the emergency warning to a warning on Tuesday. Police, Self Defense Force and Coast Guard units are conducting search and rescue effort, Suga said. (Reuters)
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