Nepal Japan Relations In The Present Context : Dr Suresh Malla
Japan, as the third largest economic superpower of the world, is one of the nearest neighbours of Nepal having bilateral relations since a long time. As one of the largest donors of Nepal, Japan’s economic aid and assistance are particularly significant for the economic development of Nepal.
Nepal’s relations with Japan are highly valued from the political, economic, socio-cultural and educational point of view. In 1968, the Embassy of Japan was established in Nepal and has helped strengthen the existing ties of friendship between the two countries. The exchanges of high-level political visits between the two countries at different periods have taken he relations to different heights.
The project support to Nepal is highly valued for the country’s economic growth. JICA was established in 1978 and is playing a significant role in the socio-economic development of Nepal. In the present context, Japanese assistance covers almost all aspects and dimensions of the Nepalese economy.
Japanese loan and grant assistance started in Nepal in 1969 and 1970 respectively. From 1970 onwards, Japan has been providing technical cooperation with the dispatch of Japan Overseas Volunteers in implementing and handling technical co-operation projects.
Japan’s economic support to Nepal holds no political interest. Japanese Grant in Aid is one of the aspects of Japan's economic assistance to Nepal. Japanese technical assistance to Nepal is one of its components. A number of projects have already been completed and some are ongoing.
Japan currently is supporting Nepal in a number of sectors and ways including agriculture, education, health human resources development, transportation and communication, electricity generation (including rural electrification) and ground water development to mention a few.
Bilateral trade relations are also increasing though the trade balance is in Japan's favour. In the present context of globalisation, there is better scope in the future to promote further relations in a number of areas including in the fields of trade, investment (FDI) and human resource utilisation.
Though the limited volume of trade has not benefitted Nepal, further scope for this can be identified in the future. In the context of the growing population and unemployment in Nepal, it would be helpful for Nepal to further improve relations in the field of employment with Japan in increasing job opportunities.
As a Buddhist country, Japan has always demonstrated the most liberal attitude towards Nepal, the birth place of Lord Buddha and its people. Lumbini has become an important instrument in strengthening and cementing the existing socio-cultural and religious linkages. Nepal is the pilgrimage centre for all Japanese.
The growing number of Japanese tourists is a further attraction in the bilateral relations. Besides government level formal relations, the people to people informal relations are also substantially increasing. Japanese mountaineering expedition teams coming to Nepal are another source of attraction in the bilateral economic ties and a source of income for Nepal. Japan's assistance in the health sector in recent years is particularly important.
Japan has also been providing educational support to Nepal in the construction of primary school buildings in the remote rural villages. This has contributed to the development of rural education.
In the last few years, the educational relationship between the two countries has been particularly notable and gradually becoming warmer. Japan has played a crucial role in developing Nepal’s human resources by providing financial support to the students to get a higher education in the different universities of Japan.
The educational relationship between the two countries has a long history. Japan provided support to Nepalese students to study in Japan during the Rana period. During the Panchayat period, Japan started providing scholarships to Nepalese students to receive higher education in different Japanese universities.
A large number of students (of the 20,000 Nepalese living in Japan now, many of them are students studying in Japanese universities) are enjoying the educational opportunities granted by Japan under the scholarship programmes. Japan currently is the destination for many Nepalese students.
Moreover, Japan has also provided financial and material support for natural calamities to Nepal on different occasions. In the current deadly earthquake, Japan provided support to the people and the government in different ways. It was the first country to propose holding a meeting of the donors to generate funds for reconstruction, for which the country and people are most grateful.
(The author has completed his Ph. D. in Nepal-Japan Relations from Tribhuvan University )