Tetsu Nakamura

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Tetsu Nakamura
中村 哲
Born(1946-09-15)15 September 1946
Fukuoka, Japan
Died4 December 2019(2019-12-04) (aged 73)
Jalalabad, Afghanistan
Cause of deathGunshot wounds
Nationality
  • Japanese
  • Afghan
Other namesKaka Murad (کاکا مراد)
Kaka Nakamura (کاکا ناکامورا)
Alma materKyushu University
OccupationPhysician
Spouse(s)Naoko Nakamura[1]
RelativesAshihei Hino (maternal uncle)[2]
Awards
Websitewww.peshawar-pms.com

Tetsu Nakamura (中村 哲, Nakamura Tetsu, Pashto: تېڅو ناکامورا‎), also known as Kaka Murad (15 September 1946 – 4 December 2019)[3] (کاکا مراد), was a Japanese physician and honorary Afghan citizen who headed Peace Japan Medical Services (PMS), an aid group known as Peshawar-kai in Japanese.

Nakamura devoted to building canal projects, from the Kunar River in eastern Afghanistan and was credited for transforming the desert of Gamberi, on the outskirts of Jalalabad, into lush forests and productive wheat farmlands. He also constructed two hospitals and two mosques.[4] In October 2019, Afghan president Ashraf Ghani granted him honorary Afghan citizenship.

On 4 December 2019, as Nakamura was heading to work in his aid vehicle in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, he was assassinated by gunmen along with his bodyguards and driver.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Nakamura was born in Fukuoka, a city in Fukuoka Prefecture on the northern shore of the Japanese island Kyushu. He graduated from Kyushu University School of Medicine in 1973,[6] after studying at Koga Nishi Elementary School,[7][8] Seinan Gakuin Junior High School,[9] and Fukuoka Prefectural Fukuoka High School.[10]

Career[edit]

Nakamura first arrived in the region in 1984 as a volunteer with the Japan Overseas Christian Medical Cooperative Service at the Mission Hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan to treat patients with leprosy as well as Afghan refugees who were fleeing the Soviet–Afghan War.[11][12] He initially intended to stay in Peshawar for five to six years.[13] Beginning in 1991, Nakamura opened three clinics to provide medical service in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, where he identified malnutrition as a root cause for the health issues in the region. From then onwards, he broadened the scope of his work into agriculture and irrigation, and focused on building canal projects in eastern Afghanistan.[14]

Starting from 2000, a drought hit the region. A consequence of this drought was the multiplications of diseases due to malnutrition and lack of water. Nakamura stated about this situation: "One irrigation canal will do more good than 100 doctors."[14] He also said: "A hospital treats patients one by one, but this helps an entire village. I love seeing a village that's been brought back to life."[15] Starting from 2003, Nakamura started building an irrigation canal in the Khewa District (Kuz Kunar) of Nangarhar Province, the Marwarid Canal. The canal gets water from the Kunar River, and has a length of 25.5 km.[16] He drew inspiration from the irrigation canals that had been built in his native Fukuoka more than 200 years ago, without the aid of modern equipment.[17]

Nakamura built or restored eight additional canals, irrigating 16,000 hectares and supporting the livelihood of 600,000 people in the Gamberi desert on the outskirts of Jalalabad in Nangarhar Province.[14] He also built eleven dams on the Kunar River.[4] He declared: "Weapons and tanks don't solve problems. The revival of farming is the cornerstone of Afghanistan's recovery."[14]

In Afghanistan, Nakamura risked his life several times. He once narrowly escaped machine-gun fire from a U.S. military helicopter. On another occasion, he rushed to protect levees from a dangerously overflowing river. "I would be happy to die here", he said.[18]

Death[edit]

Nakamura was fatally shot in a targeted killing on 4 December 2019 in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. The attackers also killed five others, including his bodyguards and driver.[19] Police said that Nakamura, while sitting in the front passenger seat, was shot with five bullets at close range from above.[20] According to a doctor performing the autopsy, a bullet, which entered Nakamura's right chest and lodged near the pelvis, was especially designed for improved penetration. The doctor said such bullets were uncommon in Afghanistan.[21]

Of the seven to eight assailants, three were armed with automatic rifles and other firearms.[21] The assailants were wearing traditional Afghan dress but did not cover their faces. According to an eyewitness: "The armed men drove to a restaurant near the site of the attack in two separate cars. When the vehicle carrying Nakamura approached, the attackers ran up and shot at it from both sides, killing Nakamura's bodyguard first." As one of the gunmen yelled at the witness to stay away from the scene, the witness hid at the restaurant. "When the sound of gunshots subsided, I heard voices trying to determine whether Nakamura and the others were all dead, before a few more shots were fired. 'It's finished, let's go', I heard one of the men say before they fled in their cars", the witness added.[22]

Nakamura remained conscious after the attack and received treatment at a local hospital in Jalalabad, but bled to death at Jalalabad Airport as he was being prepared to be airlifted to a hospital at Bagram Airfield, a U.S. military base located 50 kilometres (30 mi) north of Kabul.[17]

The security camera footage did not capture the actual shooting, but did show the two vehicles used by the assailants. Afghan security officials arrested two men in connection with the license plates of the vehicles identified in the footage.[23]

Funeral procession[edit]

On 7 December, a state funeral ceremony was held for Nakamura at Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport, during which the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani joined soldiers to carry the coffin wrapped in the Afghan flag towards an airplane. Nakamura's wife, Naoko, and eldest daughter, Akiko, were present at the ceremony in Kabul. President Ghani said: "[Nakamura's] killers will definitely go to hell. The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces will find out the perpetrators and will hand them over to justice".[24]

On 8 December, the airplane carrying Nakamura's body reached Tokyo's Narita International Airport. Nakamura's wife and eldest daughter, as well as the Japanese Senior Vice Foreign Minister Keisuke Suzuki, laid flowers and observed a moment of silence as the body was unloaded from the airplane in Tokyo.[25]

On 11 December, a funeral was held for Nakamura in his hometown Fukuoka, attended by 1,300 mourners. The Afghan flag was laid over the coffin of Nakamura. Portraits of the other five Afghans killed with him were also displayed.[23]

Responsibility[edit]

Afghan officials and civil society activists blamed the Taliban insurgent group for the attack.[26] One of Nakamura's Japanese colleagues, Kazuya Ito, who was an agricultural specialist working on the construction of irrigation channels in the Kuz Kunar District of Afghanistan's Nangarhar Province, had previously been abducted and killed by the Taliban militants in 2008 as he was on his way to an irrigation project's site in the area.[27] The Taliban, however, denied involvement in Nakamura's assassination.[28] The Taliban claimed that they had good relations with organisations that contribute to the reconstruction of Afghanistan.[29][30][31]

Provincial authorities in Nangarhar had obtained information about a possible attack on Nakamura about a year before the attack.[32] According to the governor of Nangarhar province, Shah Mahmood Miakhel, Nakamura was cautioned by the provincial government about a plan to abduct or kill him six weeks before the attack. A few days before the attack, another warning was issued to him by the province's security authorities. Although Nakamura did not like being accompanied by security guards, the governor convinced him to the dispatch of four security guards in a separate vehicle for his protection.[33]

Reactions[edit]

Nakamura's murder sent "shocks of grief" across Afghanistan and Japan, and drew widespread condemnation.[17]

In Kabul, Nangarhar, Khost and Parwan provinces, as well as in New York and Delhi, candlelight vigils were held for Nakamura.[4][34][35]

In Tokyo, tributes were paid to Nakamura at music concerts.[36]

Afghan government[edit]

The Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, offered his "deepest condolences" to the families of Nakamura and others who were killed in the attack,[26] and called Nakamura's death a big loss to the people of Afghanistan.[37] Ashraf Ghani's spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi, said: "Dr Nakamura dedicated all his life to change the lives of Afghans, working on water management, dams and improving traditional agriculture." The governor of Nangarhar province, Shah Mahmood Miakhel, said: "All the people of Nangarhar were saddened by Dr Nakamura's death and were thankful for the many years he spent helping the people."[38]

Japanese government[edit]

The Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzō Abe, expressed "shock" over the assassination of Nakamura.[22] He said: "[Nakamura] risked his life in a dangerous environment to do various work, and the people of Afghanistan were very grateful to him."[39] Japanese Empress Masako, in a statement released by the Imperial Household Agency, mourned for the death of Nakamura.[40]

Peshawar-kai[edit]

Masaru Murakami, Chairman of Nakamura's aid group Peshawar-kai, said he would continue all the work Nakamura had undertaken.[41] "Nakamura told me how unreasonable it was that we don't offer help to poor people living in mountainous areas who die of treatable diseases," he added.[23] Murakami succeeded Nakamura as the representative of Peshawar-kai in Afghanistan and decided to go to Afghanistan to resume the aid group's projects in the country.[42]

UNAMA[edit]

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) tweeted: "UN in Afghanistan condemns and expresses its revulsion at the killing today of respected Japanese aid worker Dr. Tetsu Nakamura in Jalalabad. A senseless act of violence against a man who dedicated much of his life to helping the most vulnerable Afghans."[38]

Awards and decorations[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]