Brighten the World
in Your Corner
Light a Spark of
Hope Wherever You Are
On December 4th 2019, Dr. Tetsu Nakamura who was originally from Fukuoka city, Japan was gunned down at the age of 73 in Afghanistan. There, Dr. Nakamura was the local leader of the NGO Peshawar-kai, based in Fukuoka. Peshawar-kai supported the projects of the international NGO Peace Japan Medical Services (PMS) which he headed. He devoted himself together with the local people to provide humanitarian aid and start reconstruction projects in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, countries severely damaged by war. The phrase he often chose to use was “Brighten the world in your corner.”
- Light a Spark of Hope Wherever You Are -
The Nishinippon Newspaper, based in Dr. Tetsu Nakamura’s home town Fukuoka, has set up this website where each of us can learn about his courage and way of life so as to keep his legacy alive. We hope this website will provide an opportunity for all to think about how we live and what we can do for humanity.
Graduated from Kyushu University School of Medicine (Fukuoka, Japan)
Born one year after the end of WWII (1945). His uncle was the novelist Ashihei Hino, a winner of a prestigious literary award, the Akutagawa Prize. His grandfather was Tamai Kingoro who had a coal cargo handling business in Kitakyusyu City - Fukuoka, Japan, and was the central character of one of Hino’s novels, “The Flowers and the Dragon.” Nakamura studied at Seinan Gakuin junior high school, Fukuoka high school and after graduating from Kyusyu University School of Medicine, he worked at the National Hizen Clinic (now called Hizen Psychiatric Center) in neighboring Saga prefecture. He also worked at hospitals based in Fukuoka. During this time, he joined a mountain climbing group that walked through the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the beginning of his affinity for these countries.
Starts Working in Northwest Pakistan
He was appointed as a doctor for a Christian religious group attending to leprosy patients in Peshawar, northwest Pakistan. A year before, the NGO group Peshawar-Kai was founded to support Dr. Nakamura’s work. He recalls those days about the medical tools as follows; “one trolley car that falls down when we push, a few twisted tweezers and a stethoscope that injures you when put into the ear.” He even carried the patients on his back.
Opens Clinic in Afghanistan
Half of the patients at the clinic in Peshawar were refugees who had fled the war from neighboring Afghanistan. When he realized the difficulties that they were facing in the mountain regions of Afghanistan that had no doctors, he crossed the summit at the border and opened a clinic. He expanded his area of practice and at one time run clinics in 11 different locations in both countries.
Digging Wells After the Drought
A devastating drought occurred in Afghanistan. Farmlands gradually turned into desert and the people abandoned their villages one after another. Children were the largest victims of hunger and thirst. “It is no longer a matter of healing diseases,” he declared. So convinced, he decided to start an irrigation project and began to dig wells. By 2006, the number of wells had grown to 1600.
“Sending the Self-Defense Forces is
Harmful and Useless”
The United States and its allies attacked Afghanistan, saying that it sheltered the terrorists of the September 11 attacks. In Japan, the congress was discussing the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law that provides combat service support to the allies. Dr. Tetsu Nakamura was asked to attend the special committee. “Sending the Self-Defense Forces is harmful and useless,” he emphasized and appealed that what is needed is a measure to save people from hunger. The members of the congress heckled him and he was asked to take back his words.
Begins Construction of the Irrigation Canal
As they continued to dig wells they were faced with the depletion of groundwater. Not being able to grow wheat due to the lack of water, people started to grow the poppy plant in order to obtain cash income. It is resistant to dry weather and is the main ingredient in heroin and opium. “There will be no restoration of Afghanistan without a recovery of farm villages,” he said. Realizing the limit of irrigation relying on groundwater, he started to build the irrigation canal.
Completion of the Marwarid Irrigation Canal
Construction for an irrigation canal named “Marwarid,” meaning pearl in Persian, was completed. Not only the desolated farmland but also places where it used to be desert were reborn into green lands. He also built a mosque and madrasa (an Islamic school), which are havens for the community’s soul. Besides Marwarid Irrigation Canal, he continued to provide intake canals here and there on people’s request.
Becomes an Honorary Citizen of Afghanistan
He was granted honorary citizenship by the government of Afghanistan. Due to the irrigation canal that he had constructed, 16,500 hectares of land were watered. It covers an area approximately half the size of Fukuoka city. It was the result of donations from all over Japan to Peshawar-kai and the effort of both the Afghan people and Japanese staff who supported the project.
December 4th, Gunned Down
Dr. Tetsu Nakamura was shot to death while heading to a work site by car. He was 73 years old. His driver who he highly trusted, and security guards also lost their lives.
press reports Press Reports
Japan National Press Club Reports
book Dr. Tetsu Nakamura’s Readings
Kousei e no
By Uchimura Kanzō
A Bequeathment to Future Generations