Diplomatic Eye-EP 17

Nepal-Japan Relations: Kaizen to Literature, untapped potential of diplomacy (Video)

The history of relations between Nepal and Japan traces back to the late eighteenth century- on September 1st, 1956, diplomatic relations were established, formalizing the partnership. The two nations have cordial, cooperative, and friendly relations. Japan opened an embassy in Kathmandu in 1967, and Nepal established an embassy in Tokyo in 1965.

Although Nepal and Japan maintain friendly diplomatic ties, the agenda that pertains to the transfer of technology and expertise between the two nations hasn’t received the attention it merits. The development of Nepal’s infrastructure has been greatly aided by Japan’s substantial financial support to the country in the form of loans, grants from the Official Development Assistance (ODA), foreign direct investment, and other financial instruments. These contributions have been made in almost every sector of the economy, including disaster management, renewable energy, education, healthcare, and agriculture.

How to strengthen Nepal-Japan Relations?
According to Mohan Krishna Shrestha, the president of the Centre for Diplomacy and Development and a former Nepali ambassador to France, diplomatic relations between Japan and Nepal were established on September 1, 1956. 68 long years have passed. Thankfully, we always have the finest of relations between our two countries. Through a variety of strategies, including visits at different levels and amongst individuals, our relationship has been enhanced. It is imperative that Nepal-Japan need to explore novel avenues of collaboration that will yield reciprocal advantages, according to Mr. Shrestha. Despite the tremendous political, diplomatic, and cooperative ties that exist between our two nations, we must raise the bar for these relationships.

The two nations, according to Mr. Shrestha, have a strong feeling of mutual trust and understanding. Japan is one of Nepal’s top donors, having given the country substantial financial grants and technical aid. Wherever possible, we must strengthen these relationships with the right purposes. Holding bilateral mechanism meetings can help both nations find new avenues to pursue in order to broaden their scope of cooperation, according to Ambassador Shrestha.

Prof. Ram Kumar Panday, Nepal-Japan Expert believes that the introduction of Buddhism to Japan in the sixth century marked the beginning of relations between Nepal and Japan. However, it persisted until 1899, when Japanese monk Ekai Kawaguchi arrived. Professor Panday further states that Chandra Shamsher, the Rana Prime Minister at the time, received a note from Kawaguchi. He discussed the evolution of Japan in Memorandum. Japan’s development is based on two pillars: patriotism and education. He has made numerous recommendations for Nepal’s growth.

A group of Nepalese students travelled to Japan in 1902 to pursue technical and vocational education. In 1933, scholar Jaya Prithibi Bahadur from Nepal also travelled to spread his humanism and share his expertise from Japan. Following the Second World War, Krishna Bahadur Verma travelled to Japan, where he worked with mountaineer Nishibori to help Nepal and Japan establish diplomatic ties in 1956.

In the view of Prof. Panday, relationships reached a peak when Nepal’s royal rule began. Nepal’s inability to draw Japanese tourists continued due to political unrest. Our relationships can still be profoundly strengthened by the Himalayan heights and our shared culture.

Technology Transfer
Nepal does have laws pertaining to technology transfer and international investment. The Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Act of 2019 seeks to industrialize the world while promoting foreign investment and technology transfer in order to achieve sustainable economic growth.

In an article entitled “Opportunities for Technology and Knowledge Transfer from Japan to Nepal”, Dr. Laxmi Kumar Parajuli, Kendra Hirata and Dr. Sunil Babu Shrestha believe that Nepal is fortunate to have a moderate climate and fertile soil, in contrast to Japan. Nepal does not need to fight to cultivate its own food; instead, it might take advantage of its difficult terrain to diversify the production of different fruits, vegetables, spices, etc.

The authors further assert that since Nepal has a significantly younger population than Japan, there is no labor shortage. Nepal possesses two enormous marketplaces on both sides of the border, which, if properly utilized, might provide a reliable source of income, unlike Japan. Nepal is receiving support from multiple international programs, finances, and expertise, unlike Japan. The authors claim that this exposure to a wide range of ideas and technology makes it possible for Nepal to replicate these concepts and technologies. The list continues to indicate what Nepal would be unable to access.

Kaizen Philosophy
Kaizen is a Japanese word that means constant improvement or change for the better. This is a corporate strategy from Japan that focuses on procedures that involve all staff members and continuously enhance operations. Among the main goals of the kaizen philosophy are waste removal, just-in-time delivery, standardized work, efficient equipment utilization, and quality control. Kaizen’s overarching objective is to enhance a firm by implementing incremental adjustments over time. Literatures suggest that the kaizen idea has been embraced by many businesses. Toyota is a notable example of a corporation that uses the kaizen meaning and philosophy. Kaizen is one of its guiding principles. Toyota empowers all of its workers to find areas for possible improvement and provide workable solutions in order to enhance its production system.

Literature: A Soft Power enhancing Nepal Japan Relations
Nepal has a surprising amount of interest in Japanese literature, particularly poetry. In Nepal, people read senryu and haiku, two forms of short poetry, extensively. Unofficial study groups and literary initiatives, such as the Nepal Haiku Center and the Nepal Nippon Research Institute, are actively promoting traditional Japanese literature in Nepal.There are hundreds of Nepali Haijin who write Tanka, Haiku, Senryu, Haiga and Haibun in the Japanese style in Nepali. This helps in strengthening people to people relations. It is likely that the Japanese Embassy in Nepal is not well aware of these efforts.

Learning lesions for Nepal
Ambassador Shrestha believes that Japan makes a substantial financial contribution to Nepal. However, Japan does not demonstrate much activity in the diplomatic sphere. Experts argue that while Japan is a major economic power, it lacks diplomatic might. Japan adopts a more quiet-diplomatic approach. It is the Japanese system that is based on meticulousness. Their technology is flawless and operates quickly. They prepare in great detail for any meetings or conferences.

Ambassador Shrestha claims that they talk based on veracities and evidence. Therefore, we may also learn the Japanese way of completing things perfectly and on schedule here. In the Japanese system, dawdling is not tolerated. Japanese culture has many positive traits that we can adopt, such as their impeccable respect for time.

Ambassador Shrestha asserts that we will benefit from such a mindset and method of operation. In our nation, it is customary for individuals to disregard the time during conferences and meetings. Japan doesn’t build its diplomacy on hostility. Instead, they adopt a composed demeanor, staying silent only when absolutely required, according to Ambassador Shrestha.

The prospect of improving relations between Nepal and Japan, according to Prof. Panday, is not being considered by diplomats. In a diplomatic sense, ambassadors are employed as public servants rather than as elite figures. Diplomatic ties discovered to be dormant. Numerous opportunities exist for two nations to collaborate on their shared growth. Dealing diplomatically in development cooperation was not given attention. Even if Japan is helping Nepal in their own unique manner, Nepal still needs real help with technological assistance and educational advancement. Japan mostly provides funding for health, education, agriculture, and disaster relief. Nepal has lessons to learn from the success of Japan. The elderly population is a valuable resource for technical knowledge transfer. In actuality, Nepal stands to gain a great deal by studying several facets of Japanese development.

There should be ongoing university-level, people-to-people, and government-to-government activities to improve relations between two nations. Nepal and Japan can collaborate in a number of sectors, including science and technology, agriculture, urban planning, quality standards, and literature and culture beyond Japan’s support for health, education, agriculture, and disaster relief. Studying Japanese development can provide valuable lessons for Nepal to properly give importance to the elderly population in terms of providing them better health service and social security.

As Dr. Laxmi suggests, Japan can offer valuable ICT components to Nepal, including outsourcing to Japanese companies, strengthening electronic record systems, and enhancing health screening through machine learning. Nepal can also leverage ICT in financial sectors, disaster management, mixed reality, and nanotechnology, benefiting the country’s cheaper market compared to South Asia’s neighboring countries. As opposed to rhetoric, the Japanese value output.  At what point do Nepali politicians realize that actions speak louder than words?