Speech by Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Akiko Yamanaka at the reception for the 50th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between Japan and Nepal
September 1, 2006 (Tokyo)
His Excellency Mr. Paras Ghimire, Charged' Affairs of the Embassy of Nepal,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to be here as vice-minister for foreign affairs to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Nepal.
Ever since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1956, the two countries have built warm and friendly relations through frequent people-to-people exchanges in fields such as culture, religion and tourism. Nepal is well known to Japanese people for the beautiful nature of the Himalayas and the home of Buddha. About 20,000 Japanese people visit Nepal every year. Many of them who are impressed by the heartfelt hospitality of the people of Nepal become repeating visitors to Nepal.
Former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, who passed away in July 2006, showed me his beautiful photos of the people and the mountains. He told me that he will teach me how to breathe at high altitudes. Unfortunately there wasn't an opportunity to receive his advice before my visit to Quito, Ecuador in July, a city situated 2,000m above sea level.
This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the first Japanese expedition to reach the peak of Mt. Manaslu, one of the eight 8,000m-class peaks in Nepal. This spring, many Japanese and Nepalese people took part in "the Manaslu-Fuji cleanup expedition", and made a great contribution to protecting the beautiful nature of the two countries.
On this memorable occasion of the 50th anniversary of our friendship, the "Cooperation Committee" comprised of volunteers, companies and NGOs was established in Japan. The "Cooperation Committee" plans to hold a seminar on Japan-Nepal relations tomorrow, and a cultural event named "Nepal is coming to Japan" from 16-18 September 2006. I sincerely hope that these events will succeed, and that such grass-roots activities will further promote mutual understanding between the two countries.
I would also like to mention a few words about the democratic movement in Nepal. In April 2006, the people's movement toward democracy succeeded and the House of Representatives was restored. I would like to pay tribute to the Nepalese people for their courage and firm will in achieving democracy. Subsequently, the Government of Nepal held peace talks with the Maoists with the aim of holding a free and fair election of the constitutional assembly. It was soon after the commencement of the peace talks that I met Mr. Oli, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Nepal, at the First High-Level Segment of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. I was very impressed by his strong will to bring about permanent peace and prosperity to Nepal.
Japan is ready to consider sending an election-monitoring mission, should such a request be made. Japan will also give priority to those projects which will help with poverty reduction in rural areas and which will help with the consolidation of democracy and peace. I truly hope that the success of the peace process will bring about a solid democracy and a permanent peace to Nepal.
In concluding, I sincerely hope that the ties of friendship and mutual trust will be further strengthened in the next 50 years. I would like to actively work with all the concerned people, organizations and countries to that end.
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