Last two years, we sadly had to suspend almost any kinds of gatherings due to Covid-19 pandemic, so this is the first time for me to invite this number of guests to my residence. Welcome, and thankyou all for coming here this evening.
This year 2022 is the 120th anniversary since the Government of Nepal sent eight young Nepalis to Japan for study. They landed on the port of Yokohamaon June 17, 1902
Today, I would like to celebrate the long history of people-to-people exchange between Japan and Nepal.
The first representative of our close relationship is Mr. Himalaya Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana, the founding Governor of the Nepal Rastra Bank and former Finance Secretary. It was Mr. Rana’s great grandfather, Right Honourable Mr. Dev Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana, Prime Minister of Nepal, who decided to send the first Nepali students to Japan.
Himalaya Rana himself also made a historic achievement in the economic relation with Japan. In 1960, he successfully persuaded the Board of NRB to open a bank account in the Bank of Japan. Thus, the NRB became the first foreign central bank in the world to open an account in the Bank of Japan. The account is still maintained and,as a result, it is now the symbol of our close economic relations.
Recognizing his numerous contributions to promoting economic relations and mutual understanding between Japan and Nepal, the Government of Japan decided to award the Imperial Decoration to Mr. Rana last year. Later today, I would like to convey the decoration to Mr. Rana and ask him to share a few words with us.
The second person I would like to introduce today is Dr. Prabin Shrestha, recently elected President of JUAAN, Japanese Universities Alumni Association, Nepal.Following the eight pioneers, the number of Nepali students studying in Japan has risen to the third largest, after China and Vietnam. It is astonishing considering the population of Nepal compared to that of the two countries. JUAAN is the living proof of successful educational cooperation between Nepal and Japan. The students returned from Japan have contributed to the development of Nepal in various fields to date.
The third speaker today is Mr. Sakamoto, Mayor of Miharu Town in Fukushima, Japan. He kindly sent a special video message for us.
How come Miharu Town? Well, Japan and Nepal are both blessed with nature including mountains.
Sagarmatha, or Everest, is one of famous and important tourism resources Nepali people are proud of.
The first men who climbed to the summit of Sagarmatha were, as all of you know, Mr. Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Percival Hillary.
Then, who was the first woman reached the summit?
It was a Japanese female climber, Ms. Junko Tabei, and she was from Miharu Town. Ms. Tabei conquered Sagarmatha on May 16, 1975, and in this regard, she was awarded Gurkha Dakshina Bahu Award from then Kingdom of Nepal, and Tenzing Hillary Award from Ministry of Culture of Nepal.
Today, May 24, is fortunately between the anniversary of her successful climbing to Sagarmatha in May and the anniversary of the first Nepali students arriving Japan in June.
More than a century ago, those first eight students brought back their knowledge gained in Japan and contributed to the development of this country.
In addition, they also took back wisteria, persimmon, chestnuts and chrysanthemums and planted them in Kathmandu.
These plants rooted themselves in Nepal and still give enjoyment to us timelessly.
Like these flowers and fruits, I believe that our friendship also will continue to bloom beautifully and bear fruits indefinitely.
I hope today’s gathering be a good reminder for you about our time-tested people-to-people interaction.
Yutaka Kikuta is the Ambassador of Japan to Nepal. Excerpt of the statement delivered at a ceremony.