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'One canal more useful than 1 million bullets': doctor slain in Afghanistan valued charity

In this Aug. 28, 2008, file photo, Tetsu Nakamura, who headed the Japanese charity, Peace Medical Service, speaks during a press conference about the killing of the Japanese aid worker Kazuya Ito, at the Japanese embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)
In this Aug. 28, 2008, file photo, Japanese doctor Tetsu Nakamura, dressed in a suit, is seen at a hospital in Jalalabad city, the provincial capital of Nangarhar. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

TOKYO -- Japanese physician Tetsu Nakamura, who was gunned down alongside five Afghans in a roadside shooting in Afghanistan, had underscored the importance of humanitarian aid as well as war-renouncing Article 9 of Japan's Constitution during repeated interviews with the Mainichi Shimbun.

For decades, Nakamura had provided medical treatment and supported the poor in the borderlands of the country and Pakistan.

In an interview with the Mainichi in February 2009, when then U.S. President Barack Obama decided to deploy additional troops to Afghanistan, Nakamura said Japan should distance itself from U.S. and European military operations in Afghanistan and instead extend its own humanitarian assistance to the country.

"One irrigation canal is far more useful in restoring order than 1 million bullets," Nakamura said. He then insisted that Tokyo should take a long-term approach in promoting civilian assistance to support people's livelihoods, "which wouldn't be regarded as being integrated with U.S. and European military operations."

In a June 2013 interview on Japan's pacifist Constitution, the physician said Japan should fully carry out what is written in the war-renouncing Constitution.

"The Constitution represents our ideals. Ideals aren't something we should protect. Ideals are something we should put into practice. This country has always ignored the Constitution. For example, Japan deployed Self-Defense Forces personnel to the Indian Ocean and Iraq," Nakamura said. "Politicians say Japan has no choice but to use force for its national interests. They say that's what normal countries do. I'd like to tell Japan to put the Constitution into practice."

He then asserted that Article 9 of the supreme law forms a core part of Japan's identity. "This country couldn't be called Japan without this (Article 9) as well as His Majesty the Emperor. It is a significant part of Japan's modern history," he said.

At the same time, Nakamura said Article 9 was formed at the sacrifice of many people who perished in World War II, describing the war-renouncing clause as a "memorial tablet" for the war dead.

"Many of my relatives died in the war. Whenever I come back to Japan and visit the graves of my relatives, I see the war-renouncing Constitution as a memorial tablet for some 3 million people who lost their lives to the war -- 2 million combatants and 1 million noncombatants," he said.

(Japanese original by Ikuko Ando, City News Department)

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