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Body Of Japanese Doctor Who 'Dedicated Life To Afghans' Arrives In Tokyo


The wife of slain Japanese physician Tetsu Nakamura with the coffin of her husband at the Afghan military hospital in Kabul on December 6.

The body of 73-year-old Tetsu Nakamura, a Japanese doctor who lived and worked in eastern Afghanistan for decades before he was gunned down along with five Afghan guards and colleagues last week, has arrived in his native Japan.

Japanese government officials led a brief but solemn display of mourning at Tokyo's Narita Airport on December 8 as Nakamura's body returned home.

Nakamura, who headed the nongovernmental organization Peace Japan Medical Service, was awarded honorary Afghan citizenship in April by President Ashraf Ghani.

No one has claimed responsibility for the December 4 attack in Jalalabad, the capital of Afghanistan's Nangarhar Province, on the car carrying Nakamura and the other five victims.

Authorities still have not apprehended any suspects.

Nakamura responded to a 1984 appeal for doctors to help fight leprosy in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, where he encountered many Afghan patients who'd fled violence in neighboring Afghanistan.

He later moved to Afghanistan to continue his work, and helped design and dig an irrigation system -- citing the similarities between Japanese and Afghan rivers -- following a devastating drought in 2000.

The resulting canal is credited with returning life to a 16,000-hectare region of desert.

Nakamura won the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2003, widely regarded as the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

An Afghan presidential spokesman called the killing a “heinous” attack against a man who “dedicated all his life to change the lives of Afghans, worked on water management, dams, and improvement of traditional agriculture in Afghanistan.”

Governments and officials from around the world responded with revulsion and condemnation of the killings.

Ghani participated in a ceremony to mourn Nakamura before his body was flown from Kabul.

Nakamura's body was to be transferred to his hometown of Fukuoka on December 9, according to Japanese reports.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters
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