His Majesty the Emperor of Japan celebrated his 79th birthday on 23rd December. February this year, His Majesty underwent an operation for coronary artery bypass grafting. His Majesty has recovered steadily and returned to his duty in April. In May, His Majesty the Emperor visited London on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee, 60th Anniversary of the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. In fact, the Emperor of Japan attended Her Majesty's coronation in 1953, when His Majesty was the 19 year-old Crown Prince. That was his first journey abroad. Seven years later, His Majesty visited Nepal as his third overseas journey. In 1975, His Majesty, the then Crown Prince, visited Nepal once again, accompanied with the then Crown Princess.
Japanand Nepal have maintained and developed friendly relations since the establishment of their diplomatic relations in 1956. One of the most memorable events of this year is the mutual visits of foreign ministers of the both countries. In January, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Narayan Kaj Shrestha visited Japan, and then Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba visited Nepal at the end of April.
Foreign Minister Gemba's visit took place at the time when the work of drafting the new constitution was coming to the final stage in Nepal. Unfortunately the new constitution has not been promulgated on time, but the other pillar of the peace process, the integration of former PLA combatants into the Nepal Army, has progressed smoothly. I would like to appreciate the expedited development of the integration. Now consultation among political parties concerning the new Constitutional Assembly election is held almost every day, thus, I strongly hope that the election will be conducted and the new constitution will be promulgated in the nearest future.
It is with deep sorrow that I must touch upon the Great East Japan Earthquake, which happened in March last year. Japan suffered tremendous damage and lost precious lives, but I am truly pleased to inform you that Japan is in the process of recovery. March this year, to commemorate one year anniversary of the disaster, with the participation of vice president Permanand Jha and other honourable guests, I held a reception here at my residence. That reception was to pay a tribute to the memory of victims of the earthquake and tsunami, as well as to express gratitude to the Nepali people for their support. On this occasion I would like to renew our sincere gratitude to the Nepali people for their support and assistance.
We Japanese learned the importance of “Kizuna” or “Bond of solidarity” among family members, local Japanese and foreign people through this great earthquake and tsunami. In order to maintain this Kizuna, the Government of Japan decided to invite 440 young people from SAARC member countries. From Nepal, since October this year more than 40 youths have already visited Japan and 10 more are expected to visit Japan next January under this scheme. Those 40 Nepalese visited disaster-affected areas and looked at the ongoing progress of recovery during their stay in Japan. Recently I invited participants of the programme to my residence and had the opportunity to talk with them. Almost all the young participants expressed warm words for the recovery of Japan and their eagerness to contribute in enhancing Nepal-Japan friendship. I was very encouraged by these words. I believe that these young people who visited Japan will play an active role in future as a friendly bridge between our two countries.
Here I would like to introduce you another episode which symbolizes the friendship between Japan and Nepal. This year, one splendid achievement which encouraged the Japanese people so much was accomplished in the Himalaya Mountains. On May 26,a Japanese climber, Hirotake Takeuchi, reached the summit of Mt. Dhauragiri. With that, he accomplished ascents of all 14 mountains of which the heights are more than 8,000m. Out of those mountains eight are located in Nepal. I'm very happy to hear from Takeuchi that he will make his best efforts to develop the good relations between Japan and Nepal in future, because, he said, he had received various kinds of generous support from the Nepalese people while he attained this achievement.
Excerpts of the speech delivered by him on the occasion of National Day of Japan.