• Kyodo

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Relatives and friends of the late Japanese ambassador to Croatia, Keisuke Oba, buried his ashes in Belgrade on Friday.

Oba, considered a great lover of Yugoslavia, died in the Philippines last month.

About 100 people, including many of Oba’s Serbian friends, attended the burial ceremony at the central Belgrade cemetery.

Oba died in the Philippine island of Cebu on Aug. 29 at age 67 after battling a brain tumor. He had told his family he wanted to be buried in Yugoslavia.

It is extremely rare for a Japanese diplomat to be buried overseas, according to the Japanese Embassy in Belgrade.

Oba, a graduate of Belgrade University, joined Japan’s Foreign Ministry in 1974.

Fluent in Serbo-Croat, he served as a diplomat in the various republics of the former Yugoslavia for about 20 years.

He was ambassador to Croatia before his retirement and one of the few diplomats to have closely witnessed the civil war and disintegration of Yugoslavia.

Oba’s eldest son, Naoki, lives in Cebu and nursed his father during his illness. He said his father spoke only in Serbian — not a word of Japanese or English — for the last four weeks of his life.

“I suppose this is how much he loved Yugoslavia,” Naoki said.

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