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Datum objave: 10.08.2017

Shigeaki Hinohara, St. Luke’s doctor whose foresight saved lives after Tokyo sarin attack, dies at 105

He went on to receive the Order of Culture from the government in 2005.

Shigeaki Hinohara, St. Luke’s doctor whose foresight saved lives after Tokyo sarin attack, dies at 105

Shigeaki Hinohara, honorary head of St. Luke’s International Hospital in Tokyo — who continued practicing as a doctor even after turning 100 — died from respiratory failure on Tuesday, the hospital said. He was 105.

A well-respected figure, Hinohara had been suffering from medical conditions affecting his heart and other organs due to his advanced age, said Tsuguya Fukui, who heads St. Luke’s, at a news conference on Tuesday.

He was hospitalized in March when he became unable to eat, but he refused to be fed through a tube and was discharged a few days later, spending the rest of his days at home, Fukui said.

During his more than half a century as a physician at one of Tokyo’s leading hospitals, Hinohara pioneered comprehensive medical checkups, which have today become standard for many middle-aged Japanese, and advocated preventive medicine.

His 2001 best-selling anthology of essays, “Ikikata Jozu” (“How to Live Well”), has sold more than 1.2 million copies.

A charismatic figure, Hinohara was also known for calling on senior citizens to maintain an active social life. In 2000, he founded a group for healthy people over the age of 75 and urged them to contribute to society using their wisdom and experience.

He went on to receive the Order of Culture from the government in 2005.

Hinohara was a native of Yamaguchi Prefecture and a Christian, graduating from the school of medicine at Kyoto Imperial University in 1937 and continuing his studies at its graduate school. He then began working at St. Luke’s in 1941 as a physician.

Hinohara also studied at Emory University in the United States.

In 1992, he became the head of St. Luke’s, and in 1994, while working as the hospital’s director, he had the foresight to install oxygen tubes throughout the walls of the building — including hallways, lounges and the chapel — to prepare for mass casualties that could occur if an earthquake hit the capital.

The measure proved life-saving just a year later when the cult Aum Shinrikyo used sarin to attack subways in Tokyo, killing 13 people and injuring thousands. The hospital was able to accommodate 640 patients within two hours and save the lives of all but one. Hinohara said this was possible because the hospital was prepared for such an emergency.

Hinohara was also a passenger on the Japan Airlines plane that was hijacked by Japanese Red Army members in 1970.

“The hijackers had dynamite strapped to them and we were terrorized, wondering whether the negotiations might break down,” Hinohara said as he recalled the ordeal in a 2008 interview with The Japan Times.

At the age of 88, he wrote a script for the Japanese musical “The Fall of Freddie the Leaf,” in which he also performed as an actor, dancing with children. The show, first performed in 2000, had a production off-Broadway in New York in 2010.

Shigeaki Hinohara: Remarkable life of Japan's centenarian doctor

Shigeaki Hinohara, one of Japan's most famous doctors, has died at the age of 105.

Dr Hinohara continued seeing patients until months before his death and frequently offered advice on how to live well.

Described by his colleagues as Japan's national treasure, he headed five foundations in addition to being the president of St Luke's International Hospital in Tokyo.

Here are some highlights from his remarkable life.

He began working during World War Two

Dr Hinohara began his working life as a doctor at St Luke's in the 1940s.

During the war he helped to treat victims of the firebombing that destroyed large parts of the Japanese capital.

He once survived a plane hijacking

In 1970 Dr Hinohara was a passenger on a Japan Airlines plane hijacked by the communist militant group, the Japanese Red Army.

The hijackers, who were armed with swords and pipe bombs, took 129 hostages on the flight from Tokyo to Fukuoka, later releasing them at Fukuoka and the South Korea capital Seoul before flying on to North Korea where they were offered political asylum.

In a 2008 interview with the Japan Times, Dr Hinohara said the hijackers had explosives strapped to them "and we were terrorised, wondering whether the negotiations might break down".

He wrote the script for a musical

A great music lover, Dr Hinohara, at the age of 88, wrote a script for a Japanese musical entitled The Fall of Freddie the Leaf.

The show was first performed in 2000 and Dr Hinohara also acted in the production, dancing with children, the Japan Times reported.

TV appearances into old age

Dr Hinohara frequently appeared on Japanese television, urging audiences to have more fun in their lives and to ward off illness by always giving themselves something to look forward to.

On TV and through a best-selling anthology of essays called How to Live Well, he encouraged others to do away with strict rules on when to eat and sleep. One of his last pieces of advice was; always take the stairs and keep up your strength by carrying your own bags.

"We all remember how as children, when we were having fun, we often forgot to eat or sleep," he once said.

"I believe we can keep that attitude as adults - it is best not to tire the body with too many rules such as lunchtime and bedtime."

Contributions to healthcare in Japan

In 1954 Dr Hinohara introduced Japan's system of comprehensive annual medical check-ups - called "human dry-dock" - which have been credited with greatly contributing to the country's longevity.

He was also a strong advocate of maintaining an active social life into old age.

Dr Hinohara became director of St Luke's in the early 1990s and, according to the Japan Times, had oxygen tubes installed throughout the building in 1994 to prepare for mass casualties if an earthquake struck the capital.

The next year, a sarin gas attack on Tokyo's metro by members of a cult killed at least 12 and injured thousands but the hospital was able to cope with the number of patients because of Dr Hinohara's preparations, the Times says.

'Most energetic person I have ever met'

Many tributes have been paid to Dr Hinohara, including by the Japan Times journalist Judit Kawaguchi, who knew him well. She told the BBC World Service World Update programme that he had amazing energy and drive.

"I met him when he was already in his 90s and I would say he drastically changed my mind about ageing because even then he was working 18 hours, seven days a week, and he was the most energetic person I've ever met," she said.

"He believed that life is all about contribution, so he had this incredible drive to help people, to wake up early in the morning and do something wonderful for other people. This is what was driving him and what kept him living."

She added: "He always had today's goals, tomorrow's and the next five years. I feel very sad that he died because his dream was to attend the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020. That was his next big goal and he couldn't make it.

"But he was just an amazing, amazing person and everybody who met him was transformed because of him."

Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara, Longevity Expert, Dies at (or Lives to) 105

 Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara, who cautioned against gluttony and early retirement and vigorously championed annual medical checkups, climbing stairs regularly and just having fun — advice that helped make Japan the world leader in longevity — died on July 18 in Tokyo. Dutifully practicing the credo of physician heal thyself, he lived to 105.

When he died, Dr. Hinohara was chairman emeritus of St. Luke’s International University and honorary president of St. Luke’s International Hospital, both in Tokyo. The cause was respiratory failure, the hospital said.

“He is one of the persons who built the foundations of Japanese medicine,” said Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary.

Dr. Hinohara was born in 1911, when the average Japanese person was unlikely to survive past 40. He never wasted a day defying the odds.

He ministered to victims of the firebombing of Tokyo during World War II. He was taken hostage in 1970 when Japanese Red Army terrorists hijacked a commercial jet. He was able to treat 640 of the victims of a radical cult’s subway poison gas attack in 1995 (all but one survived), because he had presciently equipped his hospital the year before to handle mass casualties like an earthquake.

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He also wrote a musical for children when he was 88 and a best-selling book when he was 101. He recently took up golf. Until a few months ago he was still treating patients and kept a date book with space for five more years of appointments.

In the early 1950s, Dr. Hinohara pioneered a system of complete annual physicals — called “human dry-dock” — that has been credited with helping to lengthen the average life span of Japanese people. Women born there today can expect to live to 87; men, to 80.

In the 1970s, he reclassified strokes and heart disorders — commonly perceived as inevitable adult diseases that required treatment — to lifestyle ailments that were often preventable.

Dr. Hinohara insisted that patients be treated as individuals — that a doctor needed to understand the patient as a whole as thoroughly as the illness. He argued that palliative care should be a priority for the terminally ill.

He imposed few inviolable health rules, though he did recommend some basic guidelines: Avoid obesity, take the stairs (he did, two steps at a time) and carry your own packages and luggage. Remember that doctors cannot cure everything. Don’t underestimate the beneficial effects of music and the company of animals; both can be therapeutic. Don’t ever retire, but if you must, do so a lot later than age 65. And prevail over pain simply by enjoying yourself.

“We all remember how as children, when we were having fun, we often forgot to eat or sleep,” he often said. “I believe we can keep that attitude as adults — it is best not to tire the body with too many rules such as lunchtime and bedtime.”

Dr. Hinohara maintained his weight at about 130 pounds. His diet was spartan: coffee, milk and orange juice with a tablespoon of olive oil for breakfast; milk and a few biscuits for lunch; vegetables with a small portion of fish and rice for dinner. (He would consume three and a half ounces of lean meat twice a week.)

Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara was born on Oct. 4, 1911, in Yamaguchi Prefecture, in western Japan. He decided to study medicine after his mother’s life was saved by the family’s doctor. His father was a Methodist pastor who had studied at Duke University.

“Have big visions and put such visions into reality with courage,” his father had advised him, Dr. Hinohara told the Asia Pacific Hospice Palliative Care Network. “The visions may not be achieved while you are alive, but do not forget to be adventurous. Then you will be victorious.”

Dr. Hinohara graduated in 1937 from Kyoto Imperial University’s College of Medicine. (He later studied for a year at Emory University in Atlanta.) He began practicing at St. Luke’s International Hospital in 1941. (It was founded by a missionary at the beginning of the 20th century.) He became its director in 1992.

In 1970, he was flying to a medical conference in Japan when his plane was hijacked by radical Communists armed with swords and pipe bombs. He was among 130 hostages who spent four days trapped in 100-degree heat until the hijackers released their captives and flew to North Korea, where they were offered asylum.

“I believe that I was privileged to live,” he later said, “so my life must be dedicated to other people.”

After spending his first six decades supporting his family, Dr. Hinohara devoted the remainder of his life largely to volunteer work.

In 2000, he conceived a musical version of Leo Buscaglia’s book “The Fall of Freddie the Leaf,” which was performed in Japan and played Off Off Broadway in New York. He wrote scores of books in Japanese, including “Living Long, Living Good” (2001), which sold more than a million copies.

Until the last few months, he would work up to 18 hours a day. Using a cane, he would exercise by taking 2,000 or more steps a day. In March, unable to eat, he was hospitalized. But he refused a feeding tube and was discharged. Months later, he died at home.

Dr. Hinohara said his outlook toward life had been inspired by Robert Browning’s poem “Abt Vogler,” especially these lines:

There shall never be one lost good! What was, shall live as before;

The evil is null, is nought, is silence implying sound;

What was good shall be good, with, for evil, so much good more;

On the earth the broken arcs; in the heaven a perfect round.

What the poem evoked for him, he once explained, was a circle drawn so big that only the arch was visible. Seeing it in full, he said, could never be realized in his lifetime.

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