Nepal-Japan relations date back to the late eighteenth century. The relationship became formal with the establishment of diplomatic relations on 01 September 1956. The relations are marked by mutual trust, goodwill and understanding between the two countries. The Embassy of Nepal was established in Tokyo in 1965 and Japan established its embassy in Kathmandu in 1967. Nepal has Honorary Consulates in Osaka and Fukuoka. Japan is a longstanding friend and development partner of Nepal. Both sides celebrated the year 2016 as the Diamond Jubilee of the establishment of Diplomatic Relations between Nepal and Japan by organizing various programs and exchanging high level visits.
Japanese Buddhist Monk, Rev. Ekai Kawaguchi, first came to Nepal on his way to Tibet in 1899 in search of holy Buddhist scriptures. He introduced Nepal and highlighted the importance of Lumbini to Japanese people through his writings and publications. During the Rana Regime in Nepal, eight Nepali students had visited Japan for their higher education in between 1902 – 1905. That made Nepali people to come closer to Japanese culture and technology.
Exchange of Visits
High-level exchange of visits between the two countries have further contributed to the promotion of bilateral relations. Growing engagements at the people-to-people levels have also contributed to further expand these relations.
As part of high level visits, Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Mahendra Bahadur Pandey visited Japan on October 5–9, 2014. Foreign Secretary Mr. Shanker Das Bairagi visited Japan from 2-9 March 2015 and held the first Nepal-Japan Political Dialogue.
Former Prime Minister of Japan Mr. Yoshiro Mori visited Nepal in 2000. Among the recent visits paid by Japanese leaders to Nepal include the visit of H.E. Nobou Kishi, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs visited Nepal on 30 August to 01 September 2016, visit of H.E. Mr. Kiyoshi Odawara, Parliamentary Vice Minister visited Nepal on 11-12 July 2017 and H.E. Mr. Tadahiko Ito, State Minister for Environment of Japan visited Nepal on 18-19 June 2017.
Nepal and Japan have Bilateral Consultative Mechanism between the Foreign Ministries. The first and second meetings of the Mechanism were held in March 2015 and June 2016 in Tokyo and Kathmandu respectively.
With a view to further strengthening and streamlining the existing economic and technical co-operation between Nepal and Japan, the two countries signed the following agreements:
Agreement on Technical Cooperation: The two countries signed the Agreement on Technical Cooperation on 3 September 2003. The Agreement is an umbrella framework, which covers areas including training, Japanese experts, volunteers, study missions, project type assistance, machinery and equipment and development studies. On the basis of the Agreement, the two Governments would enter into separate agreements to carry out mutually agreed upon specific technical cooperation programs.
Air Service Agreement: Nepal and Japan had signed the Air Service Agreement (ASA) on February 11, 1988. The latest MOU was signed on February 25-27, 1992.
The Ministry of Labour and Transport Management, Government of Nepal has also signed the Record of Discussions with the Japan International Training Cooperation Organization (JITCO) in December 2003 on sending Nepali industrial workers in Japan for Industrial Training Programme and Technical Internship Programme.
Japan has been contributing to the socio-economic development of Nepal since 1954. Japan has been assisting Nepal in the form of bilateral grant, bilateral loan, multilateral aid and technical assistance. Japan has been assisting Nepal for the promotion of peace and democracy by contributing to the socio-economic development of the country. The major areas of Japan’s economic cooperation have been human resource development, social sectors including health, agriculture development, infrastructure development, environment protection, water supply, culture, etc.
Japan also provides concessional loan for the infrastructure development in Nepal. Tanahun Hydro and Nagdhunga tunnel projects are ongoing projects under this scheme.
On human resource development, Japan has been providing annual scholarships to Government officials of Nepal in various fields under the JDS scheme starting from 2016. The Government of Japan started providing technical training to Nepali since Japan joined the Colombo Plan in 1954. Japan has also been providing Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) and Senior Volunteers to Nepal under JICA Volunteer Program. JOCV Nepal program was launched in 1970.
The Government and people of Japan extended spontaneous support in the aftermath of 2015 earthquakes in Nepal. The Japanese Government made over NRS 26 billion grant for reconstruction works in Nepal.
Trade and Investment:
Japan is one of the important trading partners of Nepal. Nepal exports pashmina products, ready-made garments, woolen goods, carpets, handicrafts, Nepali paper and paper products, leather goods, and silverware and ornaments. Nepal’s imports from Japan include vehicles and spare parts, electronic goods, machinery and equipment, iron and steel products, photographic goods, medical equipment and fabric. There is an ample scope of collaborating in trade sector by introducing Japanese production process or integrating product development by exporting niche raw materials in Japan. Japan is one of major sources of Foreign Direct Investment in Nepal.
The total FDI amount for the 2015/16 was NRS 223.4 billion. Similarly, the Japanese investors express $ 1 billion intent to invest in Nepal during the 2017 Nepal Investment Summit held in Kathmandu.
Tourism and Culture
Nepal is an attractive destination for Japanese tourists. Lumbini, the Himalayas, our age-old traditions and cultural artifacts, temples and genial nature of Nepali are some of the attractions to the Japanese. Both sides celebrated 2016 as the 60th Anniversary of the first successful ascend to the Mount Manaslu by Japanese Alpinist Minoru Higeta. She scaled the peak on May 11, 1956. There is the establishment of sister city relations between two renowned UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Lumbini of Nepal and Koyasan of Japan in September 2015.
The number of Nepali nationals living in Japan is now more than 60,000, which was only 31,531 at the end of 2013. Nepali community is 5th largest foreign communities in Japan. As the 2020 Olympic Games is approaching, Japan may also act as a powerful pull factor for Nepalis; the number of Nepali in Japan is likely to grow substantially in coming years. Every year over 10,000 Nepali students go to Japan to pursue higher studies and Japanese languages. Japan is the 2nd most preferred destination for abroad study to the Nepali students.
Cooperation in regional and multilateral forums
Japan is the observer to SAARC since April 2007. SAARC-Japan Special Fund (SJSF) has facilitated implementation of many activities. Nepal and Japan have been working closely on the matters of mutual concerns and assisting each other to the best of their capacity in the multilateral forums including in the United Nations.