By PR Pradhan
It has already been 60 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Nepal and Japan. In 1956, the diplomatic relation was established between the two countries, however, I wish to say it before the beginning of the formal relations, we had century-old relations that both the countries enjoyed. Although Japan lies in the far-East Asia and Nepal lies in the South East; Japan is an Island country and Nepal is a landlocked country, both the countries are very close to each other as Japan is a Buddhist country and Nepal is the birthplace of Lord Buddha. Both the countries share tremendous similarities in terms of culture, religion and even in terms of sentiment.
As per the history, in 1899, Ekai Kawaguchi, a Japanese Zen Buddhist monk had visited Nepal on his way to Tibet. For the first time in the history, some Nepali youths had the opportunity to go abroad for study and the country was Japan. In 1902, Chandra ShumsherRana, the then Prime Minister, had sent eight Nepali youths to Japan for study. In fact, it was the then Prime Minister DevShumsherRana’splan, unfortunately, he was unable to fulfill his plan as he was the prime minister for a very short period of 144 days only. DevShumsher was informed about Japan’s modernization process and he had wished to start modernization process in Nepal by following the Japanese way of modernization of the country. In this regard, he had developed the plan to send the Nepali youths for study in Japan to learn the Japanese way of developing the nation.
Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha is a destination for Japanese Buddhist. They want to visit Lumbini once in their lifetime to pay homage to Lord Buddha.
Besides, the Japanese people are sentimentally attached with Nepal’s natural beauty and high Himalayas, Japanese climbers successfully climbed Mt Manaslu in 1956, which was a great success for the Japanese mountaineers. In 1975, Junko Tabei, a Japanese woman, conquest Mt Everest by establishing the record of being the first woman to step atop of the world’s highest mountain. Tamae Watanabe, 63, another Japanese woman established the record of being the oldest woman to climb the top of the world, Mt Everest in 2002. Tashiko Uchida, 71, established another record for being the oldest man to reach the summit of Mt Cho Oyu in 2002.
The defeat of Japan in the second World War was a very painful event for the Japanese people. However, the conquest of the Mt Manaslu the same year was a pleasant event for them. At that time, Japanese Emperor had thus remarked: “We have not only bad news to tell the world”. The event of the conquest of Mt Manaslu gave a moral boost to the Japanese people. Hence, there are many events from which the Japanese people are sentimentally attached with Nepal.
Japan is not only a friendly country but a major partner in the socio-economic development of this Himalayan country. Basically, foreigners come with the support in one hand and their vested agendas in another hand. Specially talking about some western countries and even our southern neighbour, there are hidden interests in their support. It is an exception that the Japanese support is out of such hidden agendas and clearly for economic development and Nepal’s prosperity having no ill-intention behind such support.
Japan is assisting Nepal specially in health, education, human resource development, infrastructure, environment, cultural promotion, agricultural infrastructure development, among others.
Establishment of the Teaching Hospital, Kanti Children’s Hospital, radar facilities at the Tribhuwan International Airport, city buses, horticulture and agricultural technology transfer, Kulekhani 1 and 2 hydropower projects, new Bagmati bridge, improvement of traffic intersections in the Kathmandu city, upgrading of the Kathmandu-Bhaktapur road, Banepa-Bardibas Highway are some of the landmark support made by Japan to Nepal.
Just recently, this scribe drove to Ilam, his hometown, on his own small car with his family. It was really an adventurous journey to reach Ilam by driving through the newly constructed Banepa-Sindhuli-Bardibas Highway constructed by Japan. The road, although, narrow and curvy, has been constructed very scientifically and very strongly. For those who are visiting the eastern part of the country, it is a very short-cut road saving about 12 hours compared to the previous route – Kathmandu-Mugling-Narayanghat-Bardibas. The Sindhuli-Bardibas road has tremendously helped the local people in the eastern and remote parts of Kathmandu to uplift their livelihood. These days, many Toyota Hiace and Mahendra Scorpio vehicles are in operation from different parts of eastern Nepal, including from Ilam to Kathmandu providing passenger service. People in Ilam, who had to spend one and a half days to reach Kathmandu, are happy to reach the capital city within 12 hours via Bardibas-Banepa Highway.
Although this scribe has not been to Japan, his spouse, late JasudaKhaki Pradhan had the opportunity to visit different parts of Japan in 1980 as a member of a youth delegation at the invitation of the Japanese Youth Goodwill Cruise (JYGC) under the Japanese Prime Minister’s Office headed by the then Crown Prince of Japan in 1980. At that time, she was just 21 years old and that was her first trip abroad. During that time, she had to travel to Bangkok, Hong Kong to reach Japan. The Japan government had given a family atmosphere to all the delegation members by arranging homestay with the Japanese family. She had discovered that the Japanese people were very much friendly and helpful like the Nepali people. Still, there is an old audio tape in my house recorded with Japanese songs in Nepali youths’ vocals and Nepali songs in Japanese youths’ vocals that she had recorded during the cultural exchange programme of the JYGC.
Presently, both the friendly countries, Nepal and Japan are busy in observing the 60th year of the establishment of the diplomatic relations. On this occasion, this scribe wishes to commend the Japanese support and the affection of the Japanese people towards this Himalayan country. Long live Nepal Japan relations!
Long live Nepal-Japan relations!
By PR Pradhan