It is indeed my great honor to celebrate with you all, the birthday of His Majesty, who will be 83 years old on December 23th. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Nepal. On September 1st, the government of Nepal generously hosted a commemorative ceremony in Kathmandu recognizing our Diamond Jubilee. This grand ceremony was graced by prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, foreign minister Dr. Prakash Sharan Mahat, minister of information and communication Surendra Kumar Karki, and other high ranking Nepalese officials. Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan Nobuo Kishi represented the people and government of Japan in this event.
My Embassy and many like-minded organizations have organized a series of commemorative programs throughout this beautiful year in quite a successful fashion. Such programs include a world famous Jazz player Sadao Watnabe show and friendly football match between the Nepalese national team and a Japanese professional team. Unfortunately, Japanese team was defeated by only one goal, and the Japanese festival introduced foods and culture of my country. My very sincere appreciation goes to the government of Nepal, other friendly organizers and collaborators, who made all the commemorative events highly successful.
Major historical events took place last year in Nepal, including the Gorkha earthquake and the promulgation of the new constitution. In this August, there was a change from K.P Oli led government to the one led by Dahal. At present, political parties are seriously discussing other amendments of the constitution. I hope to see Nepal’s domestic politics to get more stable and local and other elections to be carried out without much delay. We trust it will help Nepal to become a more matured democracy and to get on track for a sustainable economic development.
Responding to last year’s tragic earthquake, the government of Japan pledged the US$ 260 million-worth assistance to Nepal, focusing on housing and schools reconstruction. The international agreements were concluded last December for our pledge to be quickly materialized. The Embassy and JICA are steadily implementing various reconstruction projects in close cooperation with the Nepal Reconstruction Authority, relevant line ministries and other Nepalese agencies. We have also begun our support to the rehabilitation of cultural heritage in Kathmandu and Patan.
The people of Japan are known to have abundant knowledge and expertise to reduce disaster risks, due to our experiences of natural disasters. We are happy to share our knowledge and expertise with the people of Nepal, who strongly wish to minimize any negative impacts to be caused by the future disasters.
Other than supporting post-earthquake reconstruction, we have recently decided to extend our assistance to such areas as aviation safety in major local airports and the school sector improvement. We will also implement a project to supply clean drinking water to the people of Pokhara. I am proud to say that the Nagdhunga-Naubishe project will improve road transportation by constructing Nepal’s first tunnel road. Following on our assistance in the last six decades and as a “true friend” of Nepal, Japan will continue to support the people of Nepal in their sincere efforts toward democratization and socio-economic developments.
I have been in Nepal as an ambassador for three full years. Although Tokyo still keeps silent on my destiny, it is not surprising that I am recalled back from Nepal at any time. I would prefer to stay in this beautiful country as long as possible, say up to the completion ceremony of Nagdhunga-Naubise tunnel, to enjoy working with all warm-hearted Nepalese people.
Finally, I would like to introduce the Japanese companies who have helped to make the event memorable. This year too, the Japanese restaurants “Kotetsu and Marronnier” are here to serve Sushi, sashimi, deep friend “Kushi-age” and other delicious Japanese foods. Japanese shake is provided by Maharjan International. For this year, Our Farm is here to offer us Japanese strawberries cultivated in Kakani village and Marushin Shitaka Corporation has brought “Japan Water” to us.
Furthermore, members of “Fukujyu-en” came here all the way from Kyoto to demonstrate the art of “senchya-tea-ceremony” to you.
(Masashi Ogawa is an ambassador of Japan to Nepal. Excerpts of his statement delivered at a reception to celebrate His Majesty the Emperor’s Birthday at Japanese Ambassador’s residence in Kathmandu on December 2, 2016.)