National / Politics

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev sends condolences over death of Yasuhiro Nakasone

Kyodo

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev offered his condolences Friday on the death of Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, saying the latter had been determined to improve Japan-Soviet relations.

Gorbachev, 88, said he became acquainted with Nakasone in 1985 and their friendship continued after the two leaders left office. Nakasone died Friday at the age of 101.

“He was fully determined to improve the stagnant relationship between Japan and the Soviet Union,” the last leader of the Soviet Union said in a statement.

Gorbachev recalled, “We had open and frank discussions that were beneficial and substantial” as the former Japanese leader took an interest in “perestroika” reforms, which started in the mid-1980s under Gorbachev, and analyzed the shift in Soviet policy.

Gorbachev was one of the few world leaders invited to Nakasone’s holiday home in the town of Hinode in the forested outskirts of Tokyo.

“I remember we had cordial conversations in a homelike atmosphere,” Gorbachev said.

Nakasone served as Japan’s prime minister between 1982 and 1987 during the Cold War, forming a close bond with late U.S. President Ronald Reagan and aiming to raise the country’s presence as a member of the West confronting the former Soviet Union.