TOKYO (majirox news) – How does it feel, I wonder, to be the last great man in the world? Ronald Reagan is no longer with us. Margaret Thatcher is not well. That leaves just Yasuhiro Nakasone as the last of the trio that took down the Soviet Union in the late l980s—and burst apart the Berlin Wall. He alone can speak to what they did together.
Here in Japan it is customary to bemoan the lack of leadership. Whether by the current prime minister Naoto Kan or by his predecessors. They are mostly seen as failures.
Not so our man Nakasone. No one and nothing can take away from him—he is now 93—the huge achievement of bringing the Cold War to an end with a decisive victory on our side.
Reagan took the initiative and Maggie and Yasu cut in as believers in democracy. Theirs was a great show, I believe, as long as it lasted. They deserve every bit of praise that they received.
That said, Nakasone is morose these days, and he is not giving interviews.
What is this silence all about? He came twice to the Foreign Correspondents Club as our guest of honor in recent years. Now he has hung up a sign on his door saying “Closed.”
Is he unwell? Apparently not, I am told. He is compos mentis, he is all there. But he is depressed.
How can this be? I wonder, is this because he is lamenting his decision, many years ago, to let his name be used as a believer in nuclear power? On and on for decades?
He is Mr. Nuke Japan.
No one knows how much money Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) will have given to Mr. Nakasone over the years. I would guess that they contributed as much as anyone to his political campaigns and expenses.
Now, with the earthquake of March 11 and the tsunami that followed, the chaos in Fukushima, the huge loss of life and with still 100,000 people sleeping in shelters, Yasu has to reflect. Did he commit himself pretty much without conditions, such as a double check on the safety of the basic designs of the power stations and their locations? I wonder if he gave carte blanche to TEPCO.
If so, Nakasone’s legacy is at risk? To be honest, it is so already, whatever he does.
Scott Stokes was the former Tokyo bureau chief of the Financial Times, The Economist and The New York Times. His upcoming book on Commodore Perry is published by Overlook Press of New York.
Nakasone served as Prime Minister from 1982 to 1987. He was a contemporary of Ronald Reagan, Helmut Kohl, François Mitterrand, Margaret Thatcher, and Mikhail Gorbachev. He is known for pushing through the privatization of state-owned companies, and for helping to revitalize Japanese nationalism during and after his term as prime minister.
In Reagan’s diary he picked Nakasone for the best Prime Minister in Japan’s history. “He impresses me more every time I see him. . . . I can’t believe he’s 65. I had him pegged for 45,” Reagan wrote.” Reagan and Nakasone remained close, calling each other “Ron” and “Yasu
Nakasone has supported and promoted the nuclear energy development as the Minister of Science and Technology Agency and the Prime Minister. He has also supported fast reactor, mixed-oxide fuel use in thermal reactors and nuclear fusion.
His message is that Japan has moved for peaceful use of nuclear energy should be a model for every country in the world including states with nuclear weapons.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reﬂect the views of Majirox News.