Parliamentary visit: a new development in the Japan-Bhutan friendship
A seven member delegation from the National Council of Bhutan visited Japan led by the Chairperson on invitation of Mr.Takeo Nishioka, the President of the House of Councillors of Japan from September 26 – October 2, 2011. The visit was special because this is the first such exchange between Japan and Bhutan in the 25 years of Japan-Bhutan relations (JICA) and I believe this is the beginning of a wider interaction; there is much we can learn from one another.
The delegation called on the President of the House of Councillors on the day of their arrival. During the call on, among many things the President said, one that echoed loud and clear was the gratitude for support during the March devastation in Japan; expressing his solidarity with the Bhutanese he also expressed his concerns about the recent earthquake we had here in Bhutan. The Bhutanese delegates also expressed solidarity and in doing so, expressed gratitude for their support to Bhutan. The intend and desire to deepen friendship between the two countries was another important point that both sides expressed. Thinking about it, the meeting turned out to be a warm interaction with different reflections being shared from both sides. Afterwards attended briefly the budget committee proceedings.
The delegation also called on Prime Minister Noda along with our Prime Minister’s delegation. The meeting saw at the very outset from the Japanese side, expression of gratitude for support during the March disaster in Japan. The Japanese Prime Minister also expressed his sadness about the recent earthquake we had in Bhutan. The two heads of Governments congratulated each for their roles during the recent UNGA in New York and expressed desire to deepen friendship with exchanges at various levels between the two countries. Our Prime Minister also thanked Prime Minister Noda and the people of Japan for their patient support and friendship in conclusion.
The delegation called on the Speaker of the House of Representatives the next day after visiting Kawasaki Solar Power Generation Plant. Both sides expressed their reflections on the occasion of 25 years of Japan-Bhutan relations and discussing earthquakes and disasters, also expressed solidarity.
The delegation soon after that attended the launch of the new Japan-Bhutan Parliamentary Friendship League Club where the Chairperson congratulated members and the Club. The launch saw a wider representation of the various political parties in the Club as compared to the earlier one.
The delegation also met the Honorary Consul of Bhutan to Japan and members of Japan-Bhutan Friendship Association over dinner.
The delegation visited Arakawa ward in Tokyo later followed by a visit to Shioiri Higashi Primary School the next day. Arakawa ward has ‘GAH’ (Gross Arakawa Happiness) and the delegation was also informed the acronym GAH also stood for the Bhutanese word for happiness. The ward believes Gross National Happiness (GNH) is a gift to the world from Bhutan and even has a research dedicated to working on integrating it into the socio-economic development plans of the ward. The little school children of Shioiri welcomed the Bhutanese delegation waiving the Bhutanese flag and saying ‘kuzuzangpola’. The school I believe is the best school in the whole of Japan.
The delegation also visited the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum and the Nagasaki Peace Park where the Chairperson laid wreath and offered prays for peace; the pain and devastation wars can cause. Nuclear disarmament in the end will save us all, it is not only about wars but having developed it which poses such grace dangers even otherwise. Visited and met the office of the Mayor of Nagasaki later in the afternoon.
The delegation also met researchers at Kyoto University where researchers made presentations of their works to the delegation. The researchers and the delegates then interacted regarding their works.
While the delegation was in Japan, they also travelled to a few other places along the way which were were equally interesting. For instance the visit to the Kyushu unzen (hotspring), urasenke (Japanese tea ceremony) and ofcourse, the haruka ride to kansai airport.
I would like to thank President Nishioka for taking this first initiative in bringing our two parliaments closer by this first exchange; the trip signifies our deepening friendship. I would also like to thank His Excellency for the warm reception and the wonderful programme that the delegation enjoyed.
Khandu is member of National Council elected from Gasa District