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In his diaries published Tuesday, the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan lavished praise on Yasuhiro Nakasone, referring to him as Japan’s “best” prime minister in history.

Reagan expressed admiration for Nakasone in many parts of the diaries he kept while in office from 1981 to 1989, which were released as “The Reagan Diaries.” Nakasone was prime minister from 1982 to 1987.

On April 4, 1985, when he touched on the substantial gains the U.S. had made in getting Japan to open its markets amid a bitter trade row, Reagan wrote, “A big factor in this is the best P.M. Japan has ever had — Yasu Nakasone.”

On May 27, 1983, he mentioned he invited Nakasone to lunch and “surprised him with a birthday cake” in Williamsburg, Va., where the Group of Seven leaders had assembled for their annual summit.

“He impresses me more every time I see him. . . . I can’t believe he’s 65. I had him pegged for 45,” Reagan wrote.

In November the same year, when he visited Japan, he wrote about the speech he made before the Diet — the first by a U.S. president — saying, “Very well received. P.M. said no other head of state had ever received such applause.”

Reagan and Nakasone remained close, calling each other “Ron” and “Yasu.”

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