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Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 14:53 03/09/2007
News Review #222: June 8, 2004

Japan's Nakasone to Attend Reagan's Funeral

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

"Japan's Nakasone to Attend Reagan's Funeral"


While he was in the office, President Reagan was not a very popular figure in Japan. Obviously, his previous career, an actor in Hollywood, did not please the sober and authoritarian people and the society of Japan, especially in those days of a quarter of a century ago.

In the days of Japan when still the communist and socialist parties were the main opposition in the political scene, President Reagan was considered hawkish to say the least, and often caricatured as a warmonger. When the Iran-Contra Affair was exposed, many commentators in Japan had said that the president would be forced to resign, by thus bringing about a peaceful world.

On the economic front, the "Reaganomix", which won a significant level of support in the US at the time, perhaps because of the theory's simplicity, was considered in Japan and a number of other countries to be a policy measure sacrificing the economies of the rest of the world. Indeed, the US itself was to suffer through the twin deficit of budget and current account, which lead to the Plaza accord in 1985 by the then G5 countries, to save the US in the hope of minimizing detrimental effects to spread out to the rest of the world. Many economists and historians in Japan now claim that the accord, invoked by Reaganomix, was the underlying cause of the bubble economy and then the collapse of it, which Japan has not yet recovered from fully.

Even though there may have been flaws in the President's policies as historical and academic point out, the image of Mr Reagan began to improve in Japan a while after he left the White House. Among other things, it was his policies that laid the basis for the strong economy of the US to follow, harvested, ironically, by Mr Clinton. But undoubtedly the most important factor was his determination to end the cold war, which was realized shortly after his resignation.

Of course, Mr Reagan was lucky. If it were not for Mr Gorbachev in the USSR at the time, the plan could have failed. The hard-line policy of Mr Reagan could have backfired and lead to grave consequences if the counterpart in the USSR had not been calm and reasonable in assessing the odds. Margaret Thatcher, the British Prime Minister at the time and herself recognized as a hard-liner in domestic as well as foreign policies, apparently played a large roll in bringing the two opponents of the cold war together in face-to-face talks.

And there was our Mr Nakasone, also considered a hard-liner in Japan where there were still sympathizers of communism in abundance. He may not seem to have played a significant role in the global scene, but he had anchored Japan to be a solid ally of the US while the President was playing a delicate game with his opponent. In retrospect, the concord between the two leaders, dubbed, sometimes with sarcasm, as "Ron-Yas" relationship, was indeed a major factor in ending the cold war. Accordingly, it is very appropriate for Mr Nakasone to attend the funeral.

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