His political talents were first recognized by Empress Komyo, and in 749, when Empress Komyo’s daughter ascended the throne to become Empress Koken, Nakamaro became the most powerful minister of the Nara court.
In 758 he made it possible for Emperor Junnin to ascend the throne, and the emperor in turn bestowed upon him the name Emi no Oshikatsu, meaning one who enjoys favor (emi), suppresses violence (oshi), and wins victory (katsu). After the death of Empress Komyo in 760, Empress Koken began to bestow increasing favor on the Buddhist priest Dokyo, who had nursed her through an illness, and the priest’s power soon threatened to exceed that of Nakamaro.
In 764 Nakamaro raised troops in an effort to overthrow Dokyo, but the plot failed and he was killed while attempting to flee to the provinces.
He is said to have been fond of mathematics and historical studies and to have been a great admirer of Chinese culture.