Slain doctor remembered for his work, legacy in Afghanistan

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Peshawar-kai Chairman Masaru Murakami speaks at a memorial service for Tetsu Nakamura in Fukuoka on Saturday.

A memorial service for Tetsu Nakamura, the Japanese doctor killed two years ago while carrying out humanitarian work in Afghanistan, was held in Fukuoka on Saturday ahead of the second anniversary of his death.

Nakamura was the representative in Afghanistan for the nongovernmental organization Peshawar-kai and was working for the reconstruction of the country. He was 73 when he was fatally shot by an armed group on Dec. 4, 2019, in eastern Afghanistan. Five others, including a driver, were also killed in the shooting.

Despite the collapse of the Afghan regime and the spread of the novel coronavirus, Peshawar-kai has continued to follow the wishes of Nakamura, and the circle of support for its activities has expanded.

Eight Afghan staff members of Peace Japan Medical Services (PMS), a local unit of Peshawar-kai, sent messages via video to the memorial service, held by Peshawar-kai and attended by about 250 people. They said Nakamura’s activities serve as a model for the next generation, and many of the eight expressed confidence in continuing their activities.

Nakamura’s words were also read during the memorial service. They included, “I want to give comfort and hope to people through our activities.”

After Nakamura’s death, Peshawar-kai came to have no Japanese members on the ground in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, 12 local senior Peshawar-kai members who are in charge of medical care, agriculture and irrigation formed the Dr. Nakamura committee and began the construction of a new irrigation facility with only local staff in December last year.

From around July this year, the number of people who appeared to be novel coronavirus patients increased rapidly at clinics in the mountainous areas operated by PMS.

In August, the Taliban entered Kabul and seized control of the capital, forcing PMS to suspend all operations to ensure the safety of its staff.

By early October, with the approval of the Taliban, PMS resumed medical activities at its clinics, farm activities during the harvest season and the construction of irrigation facilities.

After Nakamura’s death, the number of Peshawar-kai members and supporters continued to increase, reaching about 22,000 as of Saturday.

“We have put a concrete structure in place to take over Nakamura’s dream and operations in these two years,” Peshawar-kai Chairman Masaru Murakami, 72, said.

Nakamura’s eldest daughter Akiko, 41, who continues to engage in volunteer activities for Peshawar-kai, said: “Peshawar-kai and PMS have continued to provide support activities necessary for people to live. I hope groups like them will spread around the world.”