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Ex-Japan PM Nakasone to turn 100 on May 27

Former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone is seen in Minato Ward, Tokyo, on Oct. 17, 2017. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, who has advocated revisions to the postwar Constitution, will turn 100 years old on May 27.

    Nakasone will be the second person who has served as Japanese prime minister to be a centenarian following Naruhiko Higashikuni, who lived to the age of 102.

    During his term in office between 1982 and 1987, Nakasone put forward the slogan, "total reassessment of postwar politics." He played a leading role in splitting the debt-ridden Japanese National Railways into six regional passenger companies and one nationwide freight railway company in 1987.

    Nakasone was in office for 1,806 days, making him the fifth longest-serving prime minister in postwar Japan. After retiring from politics in 2003, he has been actively involved in a campaign to revise the Constitution.

    "As someone who has consistently called for constitutional revisions throughout my political career and who is to turn 100, I hope that amendment will be achieved as early as possible," Nakasone said in a message delivered to members of a nonpartisan parliamentary league on constitutional amendment, which he chairs, on May 1.

    The former prime minister had attended gatherings of the group until last year but he was absent from the meeting this year partly because he suffered a broken wrist.

    House of Representatives member Yasutaka Nakasone, grandson of the former prime minister, said, "My grandfather goes out for a few days a week, wearing a tie. He is enthusiastic about studying and thirsty for knowledge.

    "There are many things I'd like to learn from my grandfather, who has a lot of experience as a lawmaker. I'd like him to stay healthy and live long as a model of senior citizens in this age of centenarians," he added.

    Ruling Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai said he wants to respond to Nakasone's hope for constitutional revisions.

    "He has made great achievements. I'd like to try to live up to his expectations. I'd like him to continue to watch over Japan's politics as long as possible," Nikai said. An intraparty faction Nikai leads is the successor of the former Nakasone faction.

    Nakasone was first elected to the lower house in 1947. He eventually served as party secretary-general and international trade and industry minister.

    He exercised strong leadership in running the government. In 1985 he also became the first serving prime minister in the postwar period to visit Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, where Class-A war criminals are enshrined along with the war dead.

    During his term, Nakasone called a simultaneous election of both chambers of the Diet, leading the LDP to score a landslide victory. He developed friendly relations with then U.S. President Ronald Reagan and also developed mutual trust with Chinese and South Korean leaders.

    House of Councillors member Takuji Yanagimoto, who served as a secretary to Nakasone, said, "The foundation for Nakasone politics is that Japan must not pursue its own happiness at the expense of other countries."

    (Japanese original by Nozomu Takeuchi, Political News Department)

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