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Photo exhibit of daily life in Afghanistan held for 10th anniv. of NGO worker's death

Kazuya Ito's mother Junko, front, and his father Masayuki prepare a photo exhibition marking the 10th anniversary of Kazuya's death in Afghanistan, in the city of Shizuoka on Aug. 2, 2018. (Mainichi)
Kazuya Ito (Photo courtesy of Peshawar-kai)

SHIZUOKA -- A photo exhibition of daily life in Afghanistan is underway here to mark the 10th anniversary of the murder of NGO worker Kazuya Ito and educate people on his efforts to help Afghans suffering from war and drought.

    The exhibition was put on once before about 8 1/2 years ago. It was mounted again at the "Chojiya" restaurant in Suruga Ward of the city of Shizuoka in central Japan after owner Hiroyuki Shibayama proposed it to Ito's parents. There are some 40 photos introducing Afghans' daily lives, such as a girl smiling in a field of rapeseed, Ito pruning tea plants and digging a well, and lush vegetation covering once devastated land.

    Ito's 65-year-old mother Junko said, "I feel as if time has stood still, even though 10 years have passed since he passed away. I think there are people who don't know about what was going on then, but I hope that visitors will feel something when seeing these photos." The 39-year-old Shibayama added, "I'd like people to know that he (Ito) thought of others rather than himself."

    Ito was born in Kakegawa, Shizuoka Prefecture. After he graduated from the then Shizuoka Prefectural Agriculture and Forestry Junior College, he joined international nongovernmental organization "Peshawar-kai," which has helped establish medical care, irrigation and agricultural facilities in Afghanistan.

    In 2003, as Afghanistan was in the grips of the "anti-terror" war that began after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States, Ito joined work to build irrigation canals and train locals on cultivating sweet potatoes.

    However, on Aug. 26, 2008, the then 31-year-old Ito was kidnapped by an armed group while traveling by car in eastern Afghanistan. A rescue operation was launched, but Ito was found dead the following day.

    His father Masayuki, 70, commented, "I appreciate that Kazuya's activities are remembered on the 10th anniversary (of his death)."

    The photo exhibition will run until Sept. 25.

    (Japanese original by Daichi Matsuoka, Shizuoka Bureau)

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