RONALD REAGAN

Nakasone mourns ‘friend of Japan’

Prime ministers past and present offered words of tribute Sunday for former U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Reagan, who died Saturday, laid the foundation for the Japan-U.S. alliance.

Former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone mourned him as a great leader and “a friend of Japan.”

Nakasone, prime minister from 1982 to 1987, described Reagan as “a great president who led the Cold War against communism to the victory of freedom and democracy.”

The two leaders maintained close relations through the years, calling each other “Ron” and “Yasu.”

“We attended five summits together and he guided the meetings to success with his leadership and tactful jokes,” Nakasone said. “I had been in close contact with him on national security and economic issues, and we cooperated so that the democratic camp would stand together.

“He was a good friend of the Japanese people as he respected Japan and its culture.”

Koizumi said in a statement: “The foundation of the Japan-U.S. alliance that now serves as a driving force to solve international issues with other countries was built during President Reagan’s era.

“In the memory of the former president’s historical achievements, it is our responsibility to further strengthen bilateral ties and to continue the efforts for the world’s peace and prosperity.”