Body of slain doctor returns home to Japan from Afghanistan

The body of Japanese doctor Tetsu Nakamura arrives at Tokyo's Narita International Airport on Dec 8, 2019.
The body of Japanese doctor Tetsu Nakamura arrives at Tokyo's Narita International Airport on Dec 8, 2019.PHOTO: AP
A candlelight vigil for slain Japanese doctor Tetsu Nakamura in Kabul on Dec 5, 2019.
A candlelight vigil for slain Japanese doctor Tetsu Nakamura in Kabul on Dec 5, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AP) - The body of a Japanese doctor killed in a roadside shooting in Afghanistan arrived back home on Sunday (Dec 8), with government officials on hand to lead a brief ceremony of mourning at Tokyo's Narita International Airport.

Dr Tetsu Nakamura was killed last week, along with five Afghans who had been travelling with him.

Mr Keisuke Suzuki, Japan's state minister of foreign affairs, joined other officials in bowing their heads in prayer after laying flowers by the coffin, draped in white, in a solemn ceremony in honour of Dr Nakamura at the airport.

Dr Nakamura's wife and daughter, who had flown to Afghanistan to bring the body back, also took part in the ceremony.

Dr Nakamura, 73, had worked in Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar province for over a decade, leading irrigation projects in rural areas. An outpouring of sadness has followed his killing, both in Afghanistan and in Japan.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who awarded him honourary Afghan citizenship in April, was among those who carried Dr Nakamura's coffin, covered in the Afghan flag, in a departure ceremony on Saturday at Kabul's airport.

The gunmen who killed Dr Nakamura and the others fled the scene. Police say they are still looking for those behind the attack. The Taleban have denied any connection to the slaying.

Dr Nakamura headed a charity based in Fukuoka, in south-western Japan. His body will be flown there on Monday, Japanese media reports said.