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In this March 23, 2007 file photo, former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone adjusts earphone during a press conference in Tokyo. Image Credit: AP

Tokyo: Former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, an ardent conservative who worked to forge a stronger military alliance with the United States, died on Friday at the age of 101, an official at his son’s office said.

In office for five years from November 1982 to November 1987, Nakasone was known for trying to transform the nation defeated in World War II into a full-fledged member of the West during the Cold War era.

His efforts to strengthen security ties with Washington came at a time of intensifying trade friction with the United States, the world’s biggest economy.

Describing Washington as “the most important partner for Japan”, he built a friendship with then President Ronald Reagan.

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President Ronald Reagan and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone share a laugh during their closing remarks following their meeting in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 1985. The two leaders started laughing when President Reagan began speaking before a Japanese interpreter had finished translating his previous remarks. Image Credit: AP

Officials at the office of his son Hirofumi Nakasone, who is a member of the Japanese parliament’s upper house, confirmed the ex-premier’s death to AFP, with one of them saying he died Friday, without offering further details.

He broke post-World War II taboos in Japan by deciding to provide military technology to the US and scrapping the cap on the nation’s annual defence budget.

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President H.W. Bush meets with former President Jimmy Carter, right, and former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone at the White House in Washington Thursday, Sept. 5, 1991. Carter and Nakasone are to discuss U.S.-Japanese relations. Image Credit: AP

Seen as a security hawk and a nationalist, Nakasone’s positions on defence angered left-wingers in Japan, at a time when anti-war sentiments were even stronger than today after the defeat in World War II.

Echoing the “Reaganomics” policies of the American president, Nakasone privatised national enterprises such as railway and telephone operators, leaning in favour of the free market and a small state.

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FILE PHOTO: French President Jacques Chirac (R) receives former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone for a meeting at the Elysee Palace, Paris, France July 12, 1997. Image Credit: Reuters

He also left his mark on Japan’s relations with neighbours China and South Korea, which have been haunted by wartime history.

He was the first Japanese prime minister to visit South Korea, which had been under Tokyo’s colonial rule from 1910 to the end of World War II in 1945.

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Chinese President Hu Jintao, center left, is welcomed by former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone , center right, prior to a breakfast meeting with former prime ministers at a hotel in Tokyo Thursday, May 8, 2008. Image Credit: AP

In 1985, he visited a controversial war shrine but did not go the next year after China strongly criticised the move as an attempt to whitewash history.

He stepped down as prime minister in 1987 as support for his government plummeted after he tried to introduce a large-scale indirect tax system.