Dr. Nakamura: A shining example of the enduring friendship between Japan and Afghanistan


AJMAL SHAMS December 17, 2021

Dr. Nakamura: A shining example of the enduring friendship between Japan and Afghanistan
An Afghan man places a rose at a memorial for Japanese doctor Tetsu Nakamura, Kabul, Afghanistan, Dec. 5, 2019. (Reuters)

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Dec. 4 marked the second anniversary of the death of Dr. Tetsu Nakamura, a Japanese physician and aid worker who devoted a lifetime to serving the people of Afghanistan.

Well known as “Uncle Murad” among the Afghans of eastern Nangarhar Province, Nakamura had learned to speak Pashto, the language spoken by a majority of Afghans. Thousands of kilometers from his country of origin, Nakamura had made Afghanistan his second home, away from his family.

His cold-blooded murder two years ago was another grim reminder of how life-threatening the work of those earnestly serving this war-ravaged country can be.

His death was widely condemned by Afghans as the news spread on social media. Just months before his death, Nakamura had been granted honorary citizenship by the Afghan government in recognition of his services to the country, an honor seen as well deserved by most Afghans.

Nakamura started his humanitarian mission, providing medical services to Afghan refugees in Peshawar, in the 1980s. He later took an interest in the management of water resources as he believed improving the irrigation infrastructure would increase food security, which is vital for health and well-being. He successfully implemented various irrigation projects in eastern Nangarhar Province and was planning to raise funds to expand the irrigation coverage.

The enemies of the development of Afghanistan could not tolerate his development agenda, which presumably threatened their vested interests, and they took his life.

It is interesting that an Afghan of Japanese origin taught us what it means to be a true Afghan and to serve one’s country.

Ajmal Shams

His humanitarian efforts had earned him both friends and enemies. His love for changing the lives of poor Afghan farmers, by helping them to become self-reliant through the availability of irrigation water for barren lands, transformed the entire landscape of the area.

The lush green farms and gardens that were developed as a result of his efforts stand as reminder of a noble human soul; an Afghan not by blood but by character.

It is interesting that an Afghan of Japanese origin taught us what it means to be a true Afghan and to serve one’s country. I wish all Afghans had the same level of passion, love and commitment for this country.

The life and achievements of Nakamura offer just a glimpse of Japan’s support for Afghanistan over the past several decades. After the establishment of Afghan Interim Government in December 2001, Japan hosted the Tokyo Conference the following month to attract international assistance for reconstruction efforts. Co-chaired by Japan, the US, the EU and Saudi Arabia, the event pioneered the international community’s engagement with Afghanistan.

Relations between Japan and Afghanistan date back to the early 20th century, when Afghan Prince Mohammed Ayub Khan, the war hero of the Second Anglo-Afghan War, visited Japan in 1908. Several Afghan monarchs and rulers visited the country in the years that followed. Each of these trips helped to bring the two nations closer together.

What makes Afghan-Japanese relations unique is that Japan has provided generous support to Afghanistan, especially over the past two decades, with no strings attached. This is typical of Japan’s role in the developing world, where is it has consistently pursued a developmental and humanitarian agenda.

No one would have imagined that a nation utterly destroyed by the calamities of the Second World War would emerge on the global stage like a phoenix from the ashes and become one of the most thriving and politically stable economies of the world. Afghans see Japan as a symbol of development, innovation and economic growth.

The collapse of the Afghan government in August marked the beginning of a new era of Japanese engagement with Afghanistan. The Japanese ambassador’s recent visit to the country indicated that his country has not forgotten the 40 million innocent Afghans who need urgent humanitarian assistance.

It is hoped that other nations of the international community will follow suit and help the vulnerable Afghan population, as the country stands on the verge of economic collapse and humanitarian catastrophe in the wake of the developments last August.

My personal connection with Japan, as a former deputy minister in the Afghan government and as an Afghan citizen that has closely witnessed the generous and selfless Japanese aid for Afghanistan’s stabilization, make me write these words. I owe them to the Japanese people, its government and, most importantly, to the soul of the legendary Dr. Nakamura, the martyr of Afghanistan’s development.

Rest in peace, Dr. Nakamura.

  • Ajmal Shams is vice-president of the Afghanistan Social Democratic Party, and was a deputy minister in the former government of Afghanistan. Twitter: @ajmshams

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source https://www.arabnews.com/node/1988806

Categories: Afghanistan, Asia

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