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Nakasone and Nakamura: Part - II

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In the first part of this column yesterday, we discussed a brief history of Japan and the role of prime minister Nakasone in the 1980s. As Japan had been an American ally since 1945, when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan it was a no-brainer for Japan.

Japan and Russia had a long history of animosity from the 1905 war in which Japan had inflicted a humiliating defeat on the Russian navy. For the next 75 years, up to 1980, relations between Japan and Russia saw many ups and downs. There were territorial disputes over some islands that both Japan and the USSR claimed as theirs. Then the rift between China and the USSR in the 1960s had brought China and Japan somewhat closer and the Soviet Union was not amused. Though Japan and the USSR had full diplomatic and trade relations, the warmth was missing.

After the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan, Japan immediately condemned the Soviet occupation forces. It aligned itself with the Western capitalist powers which wasted no time in organizing a resistance movement against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan. General Zia desperately needed support and offered his services to plunge Pakistan into this war game. Initially, Japan’s reaction was slow in joining the war, but when Nakasone became prime minister his conservative streak, and his desire to make Japan more active internationally and militarily, brought him much closer to Reagan, and soon Japan was supporting Pakistan in its war efforts against the Soviets.

Since Japan was allowed to keep only self-defence forces after the surrender in 1945, Nakasone was unable to send any military forces but Japan’s developmental and humanitarian organs were brought into action in Pakistan. Nakasone facilitated the establishment of Japanese humanitarian centres and medical assistance units along the border with Afghanistan, where the Afghan militants and warriors – the so-called ‘Mujahideen’ – were waging a ‘holy war’ or Jihad. Tetsu Nakamura was one of those Japanese doctors who set up........

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