Tetsu Nakamura (L) won what is widely regarded as the Asian equivalent of the Nobel prize for his aid work Photo: AFP/File
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Tetsu Nakamura: Japanese doctor who devoted his life to Afghanistan

30 Comments
By JOEL NITO

Japanese doctor Tetsu Nakamura, killed Wednesday in an attack in Afghanistan, devoted 35 years of his life to healing Afghans and Pakistanis and eventually became an honorary citizen of his adopted home.

Often seen sporting Pashtun dress, the 73-year-old native of the southern city of Fukuoka headed to Peshawar in northwest Pakistan in 1984 to treat leprosy in Pakistanis and sick Afghan refugees.

The posting was meant to be for "five or six years," he said in an interview with national broadcaster NHK last year. "The plan was to come home when I was done."

"We didn't have the proper facilities (for surgery and rehabilitation) but I couldn't just run away and abandon these people," he said.

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Men light candles in front of the portrait of Japanese doctor Tetsu Nakamura, who was killed in Wednesday's attack in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. Photo: REUTERS

The doctor founded Peace Japan Medical Services, known as Peshawar Kai in Japanese and went on to open a clinic in a remote village in Afghanistan in 1991.

But he quickly realised that he needed to treat the root causes of illness in Afghanistan, as well as the acute symptoms, and identified better irrigation to fight malnutrition as a priority area for his aid work.

"Starvation, drought... medicine cannot solve these problems. We realised we needed to go beyond the narrow field of medicine," he told NHK.

"As a doctor, nothing is better than healing patients and sending them home," he said. "A hospital treats patients one-by-one but this helps the entire village. I love seeing a village that's been brought back to life."

But Nakamura issued a stark warning of the dangers of of desertification in Afghanistan.

"Every year, it gets worse. I know that the people in Afghanistan are scared of losing their country that will become a desert."

Just two months ago, Nakamura was honored for his humanitarian work in the country with honorary Afghan citizenship.

And in 2003, Nakamura won the Philippines' Ramon Magsaysay Award for peace and international understanding, often dubbed Asia's Nobel Prize.

"In his harsh beloved hills, Nakamura strives to transcend politics, religion, and ethnicity and to practice mutual dependence. For all of us, he believes, this is the key to peace," the group said in its citation.

On the political front, he was an outspoken opponent of the 2001 US-led war that ousted the Taliban regime, whom he defended as able administrators.

Nakamura was shot on the right side of his chest during the attack and was in the process of being transferred to a hospital in Bagram near Kabul when he died at Jalalabad airport.

© 2019 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


30 Comments
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"We didn't have the proper facilities (for surgery and rehabilitation) but I couldn't just run away and abandon these people," he said.

What a badass. He practiced what he preaches and refused to give up on those less fortunate than him.

I hope the power of the US Department of Defense is brought to bear to bring the killers to justice with some 5.56 rounds.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

I hope the power of the US Department of Defense is brought to bear to bring the killers to justice with some 5.56 rounds.

Which would probably be the LAST thing that he would have wanted to be left as the final act in his legacy of literally giving his own life in the service of others!

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Which would probably be the LAST thing that he would have wanted to be left as the final act in his legacy of literally giving his own life in the service of others!

Agreed; however, the animals that murdered him clearly understand only one thing: violence, and they need to be made to understand that murdering people like the good doctor is a no-no.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Sad to read stories like this. People who try to help get caught in the cross fire and become a victim themselves.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Killed by cowardly bastards who have nothing else to contribute than murdering civilians. RIP Dr. Nakamura.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

What a badass. He practiced what he preaches and refused to give up on those less fortunate than him.

I hope the power of the US Department of Defense is brought to bear to bring the killers to justice with some 5.56 rounds.

Well said Chip Star.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

A terrible and unnecessary loss. RIP Doctor Nakamura.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

So sorry to read this, Dr. Nakamura did good work under the most difficult of conditions.

The Taliban might deny killing him, but its either them or one of their off-shoots.

Keeping the Afghans backward works to their advantage.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

RIP Nakamura Sensei .

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Savages, he gives his life to the people of the country and they pay him back with this? Shows you how you just can't help some people...

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

My prayers and condolences to his family, friends and other loved ones.

Clearly, Nakamura-sensei lived his life to the fullest brings health care,

peace with his work and harmony.

He was honored for all he has done during his life and pray that this will

continue now that he is no longer here.

RIP Nakamura-sensei now and forever.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

RIP Nakamura Sensei 

The irony is that those who gunned him and the other aid workers down, would likely have been the first on his doorstep in a time of need.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Dr. Nakamura defended the Taliban as "able administrators" and was against the US invasion. Why would the Taliban kill one of its supporters? Wasn't it someone else?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Wahid on the other thread in 'crime' may be onto something. If the Pashtun southern Taliban regain control of the whole country, other minorities will be seriously afraid of renewed ethnic cleansing, particularly the Hazaras. Was someone trying to stir this up again to prevent Trump's influence and recent political gains by the Taliban?

Or was this killing simply because Dr Nakamura was awarded Afghan citizenship, had become too famous and was maybe seen as a darling of the present government?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

That’s what you get for poking your nose in where it doesn’t belong.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

not a peep about the 5 Afghans who were murdered shame on JT

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

They were included in the headline in our top story last night.

Macv, this is an article in the "National" section remembering Dr. Nakamura. If you are too lazy to check the "Crime" section, where JT has an article titled "Gunmen kill Japanese doctor, five Afghans", that's not JT's fault. And if you want more details, you should probably check "Afghanistan Today", because media in Japan will naturally focus on the Japanese citizen, not his Afghan bodyguards.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

macv, what you say both here and on the other thread is true. For some reason 'another dead Afghan or two' is sadly not really newsworthy. Although these articles are in Crime and National on JT, by the way, the killing is international news on the BBC and elsewhere.

Have you considered other possibilities, such as that they could have been paid money to stop the car and not shoot back, but were then killed anyway in order to ensure their silence?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Our whole country is in tears

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Dr. Nakamura faced deadlock of medical treatments there because local people drink dirty water and take bad nutrition everyday. So he decided to lead local people to make irrigation canal to grow crops for many years and now green field can make good crops in the desert. Locals can eat a lot and drink better water. Most sicknesses gone as a result. His long time work was the greatest of all. Rest in peace.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

An amazing man, and a horrible loss for the world. He honoured us all. RIP.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Really sad to hear of someone that gave so much to a land that he so obviously loved. Then gunned down in cold blood by cowards dead set on sending their own country back to the stone age. He gave everything and then received this. Its going to be a hard thing for the Japanese people to get their head around, until you understand what fundamentalism is. There is no, nor can be any reason when you are infected by it. Rip Nakamura Sensei.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Everyone is mourning in Afghanistan for #Nakamura RIP.

Rest In Peace Uncle Murad.

He was awarded Afghanistan Honorable Nationality recently and sadly it happened to him what is happening to an average of 100 Afghans on daily basis Killed without knowing why??

I am speechless

Sorry NAKAMURA san my 5 Afghans (Bodyguards and driver) tried to protect you by sacrificing their blood in the spot but we failed to protect you

申し訳ありません

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Can Dr. Nakamura be given a Nobel Peace Prize posthumously?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The Japanese Man whom Deserved to be a champion for all afghans because of his hard working,& agriculture innovation.

The Japanese Man whom leaved his county, nation & Relative for a positive changes to the people of Afghanistan .

the man whom accept the risk of his life .

the man whom changed our dry deserts to green.

the man whom wished to bring smile and happiness to the future generation of afghans , but today he has died by unknown peoples and terrorists.

My deepest condolence to the people of Japan & his respected family of Dr. Tetsu Nakamura, head of the NGO Peace (Japan) Medical Services. He did great service for Afghanistan. we will never forgot his achievement ,innovation and services which he had been done for the people of Afghanistan . :(

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Huge respect for this man.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

We all Afghans loves Dr.Nakamura.

He is a real hero for us, but we are also victims of terrorism.

We are sorry Dr.

RIP

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Tetsu Nakamura was Afghanistan Hero Today all Afghans are Crying for Losing our Great Citizen Tetsu Nakamura, we the people of Afghanistan are too much helpless and Weak he was like an angel among us we could not save him we never forget him he will be always alive in our memories sorry the people of japan

1 ( +2 / -1 )

A heroic life. Japanese doctor Tetsu Nakamura served humanity with dedication and distinction. His noble deeds will be remembered for long. RIP Sir.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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