The "Friendship Program for the 21st Century" was launched by the former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone during his visit to ASEAN countries in 1983 and started in 1984 originally as the ASEAN Youth Invitation Program. Under this Program, the youth of developing countries, who will shoulder the task of future nation-building, are invited to Japan approximately for 1 month. It is anticipated that through this Program the youth of these countries and Japan foster friendship and mutual understanding, which is the cornerstone of long-lasting relationship between the countries in the 21st century.
“I am very happy to see you, as you now become a true leader in your country”, he said to ASEAN-Japan delegates.
Yasuhiro Nakasone, served as prime minister of Japan from 1982 to 1987. After his career in politics from 1946 to his resignation in 2003, Nakasone established and currently leads numerous organizations including the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF) of which he is founder and honorary president, and the Institute for International Policy Studies (IIPS) which he founded and where he now serves as chairman
Nakasone , a World Leader:
Nakasone is one of only several prime ministers who have served more than five years. What accounts for Nakasone's extended tenure? There are several reasons for his success, including favorable economic conditions during his tenure and his ability to pass his domestic program through the Diet. But, unlike his predecessors who had often assumed office with only 30 percent approval from the public because the prime minister is chosen by his peers rather than by popular vote Nakasone cultivated his popularity with the people. In the early 1960s Nakasone argued that the prime minister should be popularly elected. That reform did not get enacted, but Nakasone never considered a political move without preparing his public. Other politicians criticized Nakasone for playing to the grandstand, but their voices were stilled by the immense popularity of Nakasone's party and cabinet popularity so great that in the 1986 elections the party won more seats in the Diet than it had ever won before.
Nakasone's greatest contribution was in foreign affairs. The quickest to industrialize in spite of the fact that it began its technological development later than most industrialized nations, Japan had great troubles accommodating itself to the international order. Before World War II, it was perceived as being too aggressive; after World War II, this opinion was reversed and Japan was seen as being too passive. Other nations have looked at Japan's business activity and concluded that Japan is an economic animal, though these same nations have said they hope to emulate Japan in building a prosperous and stable nation.
Nakasone is seen as having changed these circumstances. He brought Japan into the colloquy of nations and was responsible for propagating a better understanding of Japan among the nations. Most of all, Nakasone instilled a national pride in the Japanese people in their new-found world identity.
In 1947, to help win his first election, Nakasone created the Purple Cloud Society (Seiun Juku) among the young men in his Gumma electoral district. In its charter are listed these three goals: to restore pride and independence to Japan; to foster Asian democracy; to change for the better the world and Japan's position in it. Those goals still form a sturdy tripod on which to base an understanding of Nakasone.