1st Edition

Fighting Japan's Cold War Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone and His Times

By Ryuji Hattori Copyright 2023

    Yasuhiro Nakasone, who served as prime minister for more than five years in the 1980s, was one of Japan’s leading postwar politicians. This book is a biography of him, but by interweaving international politics and media appraisals of him, it also serves as an examination of Japan’s postwar politics. Nakasone was an innovative conservative who actively criticized the conservative mainstream, and this book reveals from both domestic and foreign policy perspectives how the Liberal Democratic Party governed. The Nakasone government served not only as the final phase of the Cold War era of LDP factional politics but also as the starting point for the general mainstream faction system that followed. With the lengthy passage of time since the end of the Cold War and the collapse of Japan’s 1955 party system, there is a need to reassess Nakasone, showing that there was much more to him than the popular picture of him as a far-right hawk who loudly advocated for Japan to engage in autonomous self-defense and as an opportunist leader of a small faction, and to place the era in which Nakasone lived its proper historical context.


    1: Nakasone’s Youth: From Lumber to the Home Ministry

    2: Deployment and Defeat: A Lieutenant in the Navy

    3: The "Young Officer": Nakasone’s Time in the Opposition

    4. The Conservative Merger and Nakasone’s First Cabinet Position: Director-General of the Science and Technology Agency under Kishi

    5: From "Killing Time" to Becoming a Faction Leader

    6: “Autonomous Defense” and the Three Non-Nuclear Principles: Nakasone under Satō – Minister of Transportation and Director-General of the Defense Agency

    7: "Neoliberalism" and the Oil Crisis: MITI Minister in the Tanaka Government

    8: The “Sankaku Daifuku Chū” Era: LDP Secretary-General, General Council Chairman, and Director-General of the Administrative Management Agency

    9: 1,806 Days as Prime Minister: Seeking to be a "Presidential Prime Minister"

    I. Tanaka Kakuei’s Shadow and the Results of Proactive Diplomacy: Nakasone’s First Term

    II. "Pacific Cooperation" and Privatization: Nakasone’s Second Term

    III. The Weight of 304 Seats: Nakasone’s Third Term

    10: "Rain of Cicada Cries": The 32 Years After Being Prime Minister



    Ryuji Hattori is a Professor in the Faculty of Policy Studies at Chuo University, Japan and has an MA from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University.

    Graham B. Leonard is an Independent Translator and Researcher based in Seattle, Washington, USA

    Hattori, with translator Graham Leonard, has produced an amazing biography of Yasuhiro Nakasone that helps readers understand his place in modern Japanese history. … Nakasone is considered the "presidential prime minister" for his stately bearing and international presence. Moreover, he was one of Japan's leading and most prominent postwar politicians. … Not only has Hattori produced an amazing biography, but he has done so in a way that helps the reader understand prewar, wartime, postwar, and post-Cold War Japanese history and politics in a way most others have not. His faithfulness to primary documents and sources allows the biography to present an unbiased account of a statesman constantly thinking of Japan's place in the world. – Robert Eldridge in Japan Forward