December 24, 2018
It is 30 years since the first JOCV (JICA volunteer) landed in Bhutan in December 1988. The total number of volunteers, including senior volunteers, reached 594 as of December 1, and they have greatly contributed to bringing development impact to the country.
There are a few ex-JOCVs, who published a book about their volunteer experience in Bhutan or about Bhutan in general. Mr. Shuichi Hirayama, ex-JOCV architect in 1993-95 and 2002-04, is one of those authors. As soon as he completed his second assignment and left the country, he started writing an information sourcebook about Bhutan and it was published in 2005 as "60 Chapters To Know About Bhutan." It is the most comprehensive and valuable information sourcebook about this country, written in Japanese language, and many JICA volunteers, experts, consultants and staffs have bought it to prepare for their assignment.
But 13 years after the publication, his book became a bit obsolete and some chapters became unsuitable to describe the current situation of the country. In preparation for the 30th Anniversary of the JOCV Program for Bhutan in 2018, JICA Bhutan Office contacted Mr. Hirayama in early 2017 and suggested he revise the 2005 publication. Since then, we have provided additional information to him. Also, a few JICA volunteers stationed in the country cooperated for him to write new chapters. Mr. Hirayama kindly added a chapter about JOCV.
With the books ready for sale in early January, JICA Bhutan Office hosted the book-launching seminars in Osaka on December 22 and then in Tokyo on December 24. The Osaka round was co-hosted by the Resona Asia-Oceania Foundation, and the Tokyo round by the Japan Institute for Bhutan Studies. Mr. Hirayama was a main lecturer and highlighted the change he observed in the last visit to Bhutan in June 2018. The seminars were also participated by Koji Yamada, Chief Representative of the JICA Bhutan Office, and he made another presentation about the current issues such as 2018 General Election, 2017 Population and Housing Census and the Establishment of FabLab Bhutan. Both seminars were almost full of audience and offered a good forum for the people who were interested in the country.
A series of events celebrating the 30th anniversary ended with the seminars in Japan. We hope that the revised edition of "60 Chapters" will be a valuable sourcebook for the Japanese youths to rely on when applying for the JICA volunteer in the next decade.
Mr. Hirayama speaks about his observation of the last visit to Bhutan (Tokyo Semina)
Chief Representative, Koji Yamada, responds to the question from the audience (Tokyo)
Tokyo Seminar was full of audience.