Afghans on Thursday held a nationwide candlelight vigil prayer ceremony in remembrance of Dr. Tetsu Nakamura, the head of Japanese NGO Peace Japan Medical Services (PJMS), who lost his life along with five others in an attack in Jalalabad city, the capital of Nangarhar province, on Wednesday morning.
The murder of Nakamura sparked a strong backlash and an outpouring of grief from the Afghan people with whom he spent thirty years of his life.
Vigils were held in Kabul, Nangarhar and in Parwan.
Mr. Nakamura’s tragic killing also sparked strong reactions outside Afghanistan.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan told reporters: “I was shocked that he had to die this way.”
Pakistan’s Pashtun politician Afrasiab Khattak wrote a poem in the memory of Dr. Nakamura, and famous Afghan singer Haroon Bacha composed a song in his memory.
“This shows the failure of the government--one of their colleagues (at PJMS) had already been killed in the past. The government should be serious about this,” said Tamim Eshaqzai, a resident of Jalalabad.
“He (Nakamura) was saying that the foreigners will leave, this homelands belongs to us and you, so build this homeland and live in it,” said Asif, a colleague of Nakamura’s.
Residents in Kabul also paid homage to him and called for the trial of the perpetrators who are involved in the murder.
“The enemies and foreign intelligence agencies never tolerate those who serve this country and have a will to rebuild it. We strongly condemn this attack and call on the government to arrest the perpetrators behind this attack and serve them justice,” said Rafiullah Samim, a resident in Kabul.
Nakamura, 73, came to Afghanistan in the 1980s to treat leprosy. But he changed many more lives with the canal-building techniques he brought from Japan.
Nakamura established 11 dams on the Kunar River and also dug over 1500 wells that provide clean water to over 650,000 people in Nangarhar.
He helped to build a main canal about 25.5 km long from the Kunar River to the Gamberi area.
He was currently working on the second phase of this canal with a budget of more than $15 million.
After facing difficulties in procuring equipment to dig the first canals, he drew inspiration from techniques used more than 200 years ago in his hometown in Japan.
Along with irrigation projects, Nakamura established two hospitals, as well as two mosques.