Tosiwo Nakayama, 75, first Micronesia president
Tosiwo Nakayama, the first president of the Federated States of Micronesia who helped his country emerge from U.S. control, has died. He was 75.
Nakayama died Thursday at the Hawaii Medical Center-West near Waipahu, Micronesian government officials said yesterday. No cause of death was given.
"We consider him our George Washington," said Tadao Sigrah, the Micronesian consul general in Honolulu who was a former member of Nakayama's presidential staff. "He's one of the founding fathers of the country. He was a real leader."
Nakayama became the nation's first president in May 1979 and went on to serve a second term.
"Nakayama's leadership, commitment and guidance during the nation's early efforts towards self-government earned him the respect of his colleagues and the people of the Federated States of Micronesia," said a statement released by the president's office.
Bethwel Henry, the postmaster general of Micronesia and a former speaker of the house, said Nakayama had been ill for awhile and spent a lot of time in Hawai'i for medical treatment and because he wanted to spend his final days with his daughter.
"It's a very big loss," he said.
Originally from Chuuk, Nakayama is survived by other children and grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are pending.
The islands, formerly part of the U.S.-administered Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, became an independent nation under a Compact of Free Association with the U.S. in 1986.