Japanese physician Tetsu Nakamura, one of six people killed in a shooting in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, was a committed aid worker who had for decades provided medical treatment and helped the poor in the borderlands of the country and Pakistan.

In recognition of his significant contributions, including the construction of irrigation systems, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani granted Nakamura honorary citizenship in October.

A graduate of the Kyushu University School of Medicine, Nakamura began his medical work in Pakistan's northwest region of Peshawar in 1984, treating people with leprosy and other diseases.

(Supplied photo shows Japanese physician Tetsu Nakamura (far R) providing medical treatment in Pakistan in the early 1980s.)
[Photo courtesy of Peshawar-kai]

During that time, he also treated countless refugees in Pakistan who had fled the civil war in Afghanistan. In 1991, he opened a clinic in the province of Nangarhar in eastern Afghanistan.

Water shortages due to a drought in Afghanistan in 2000 led to the spread of infectious diseases and a rising death toll among children.

Nakamura assembled a group of volunteers, including Japanese youth, to dig wells in order to improve villagers' access to water, with the construction of irrigation channels commencing in 2003.

After learning about hydraulic engineering, Nakamura used trial-and-error to find construction methods that did not require expensive machinery.

The 73-year-old representative of the Peshawar-kai aid group, based in the city of Fukuoka in southwestern Japan, and five others including his driver were killed when armed men attacked their vehicle in Jalalabad in Nangarhar, local and Japanese government officials said Wednesday.

According to the Japanese aid group, Nakamura and the others were on their way to a site for irrigation work 25 kilometers from his accommodation.

(Photo taken in November 2016 shows Tetsu Nakamura standing by a canal built with Japanese technologies on the outskirts of Jalalabad, eastern Afghanistan.)

In 2008, the organization also started building a school in eastern Afghanistan with the aim of educating children and caring for infants in poverty-stricken families.

Many of the poor people in the desolate region, lacking in industry, side with anti-government militant groups.

In August 2008, Kazuya Ito, a 31-year-old Japanese male member of Peshawar-kai involved in the construction of irrigation channels, was shot and killed by an armed group.

Although the aid group restricted the entry of Japanese nationals into the area following the incident, Nakamura continued to lead local staff.

Using donations, he continued to build water routes, plant trees and cultivate the land, which at the same time helped create jobs for local people.

The Afghan government commended Nakamura last year for his dedication to humanitarian work.

He was also awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award, dubbed the Nobel Prize of Asia, in 2003 for his long-standing contributions to the region.

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