Editorial:Testu Nakamura Killed – Wishing to Carry on His Legacy of Nonviolence

December 6, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo

Tetsu Nakamura, a physician and representative of Peshawar-kai in Afghanistan, was shot by an armed group and died. Peshawar-kai is a non-governmental organization working to aid Afghanistan’s recovery. Nakamura was a champion of nonviolence and worked endlessly to build a peaceful Afghanistan. It is a tragedy that he was gunned down before he could accomplish all he wanted.

Nakamura braved danger and made his home in a conflict zone for many years so that he could work on behalf of the Afghan people suffering due to war and poverty. He wanted to “go where no one else would go and do things that no one else would do.” This led him to not only provide medical services, but also to dig wells and irrigation channels to bring greenery back to the desert.

Nakamura aided Afghanistan’s efforts to become self-reliant. He believed that the Afghan people would escape poverty, discard their weapons, and a day of peace would arrive. His actions were based on the humanist ideal of extending a helping hand to the innocent, regardless of nationality, race, or religion. He showed us an example of humanitarian aid that Japan can be proud of.

He was a model of the peaceful Okinawa that we strive for. Peshawar-kai was the first recipient of the Okinawa Peace Prize, established by the prefecture in 2002. Okinawa was sacrificed in the Battle of Okinawa and still houses expansive military bases postwar. To Nakamura, this struggle and contradiction represented Asia in microcosm. The people of Okinawa resonate with him as “servants of nonviolence and selflessness.”

At the awards ceremony, Nakamura said, “Having our activities recognized by the people of Okinawa as contributing to peace through nonviolence has a special meaning.” Thinking of the reasons the award was established, his group was an appropriate recipient. Okinawans are proud to be able to celebrate his work.

In October of this year, Nakamura was granted honorary citizenship by the government of Afghanistan as a great hero. He gave his all for Afghanistan and was widely respected. Why did such a man become the target of an attack? The senseless violence is infuriating.

At the same time, there is concern that the Japanese government’s tendency to follow along with America’s use of force has threatened the safety of Japanese people in areas of conflict overseas.

After the September 11 Attacks in 2001, the United States retaliated by initiating airstrikes against the Taliban headquartered in Afghanistan. Japan declared its support. When the United States invaded Iraq in 2004, Japan Ground Self Defense Forces were deployed to southern Samawah.

With Japan’s enactment of security-related legislation in 2015, it became possible to exercise collective self-defense. In response, Nakamura warned, “We are protected and able to continue our work because, unlike other countries, Japan is believed to be a country that will not wage war.”

While movements such as those to allow weapons exports and revise Article 9 grow stronger, it is increasingly difficult to claim that Japan is a neutral country. An additional example of going along with the United States militarily is the construction of the new base at Henoko.

I want to continue Nakamura’s legacy of practicing nonviolence and to understand the importance of the pacifism proclaimed in the constitution. I, along with every Okinawan, honor the activities of Peshawar-kai, and offer our prayers that Tetsu Nakamura will rest in peace.

(English translation by T&CT and Ellen Huntley)

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