• Kyodo

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A memorial service for former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, who died at the age of 101 in November last year, was held Thursday in his hometown of Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture.

The event was funded by the prefectural and city governments. It had been postponed from April and scaled back due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Around 2,400 invited guests including parliamentarians and local municipality heads honored Nakasone, who led Japan from 1982 to 1987, in the memorial service, which was closed to the public.

Nakasone was a “prime minister who represented postwar Japan as he raised the country’s profile through diplomacy,” Gunma Gov. Ichita Yamamoto said in his address.

Former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, who also hails from Takasaki, said Nakasone “never forgot to care for others while implementing large-scale, bold policies.”

The prefecture and the city will shoulder costs of up to ¥42 million for the event.

The ceremony in Takasaki followed a state-funded memorial service in Tokyo last month that drew criticism over its costs totaling nearly ¥200 million. There were also complaints after the education ministry asked national universities and other official institutions to fly flags at half-mast and observe a moment of silence.

The central government and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, to which Nakasone belonged, evenly split the bill for the Oct. 17 event, with some ¥96 million spent from the state coffers.

Nakasone, born in Takasaki in 1918, was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1947 from a constituency in Gunma Prefecture. As prime minister, he built a close relationship with U.S. President Ronald Reagan and boosted Japan’s presence during the Cold War against the former Soviet Union.

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