February 1, 2016
Eight months have passed since the earthquake that occurred on April 25, 2015. In September, a new constitution was announced in Nepal, but as an effect of the subsequent political situation, Nepal's border with India was blockaded, and earthquake reconstruction is taking place amid a shortage of fuel and raw materials.
During this visit, Mr. Kitaoka held talks with dignitaries including Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli, attended a signing ceremony for the Japanese ODA loans for the Emergency School Reconstruction Project and the Emergency Housing Reconstruction Project, for which Japan has announced support, and he also visited earthquake affected areas to see the damage and state of reconstruction.
Mr. Kitaoka had a meeting with Mr. Oli on Dec. 21. The prime minister touched on the fact that 2016 would be the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Nepal and said he hopes the two countries continue to deepen their cooperative relationship.
Mr. Kitaoka expressed his condolences for the earthquake victims. He said he understands that the Nepalese government is faced with a difficult situation, including fuel shortages, and said JICA is ready to provide the necessary support.
In discussions with Finance Minister Bishnu Prasad Paudel; Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar, deputy prime minister and minister of Physical Infrastructure and Transport; and National Planning Commission Vice-Chairman Yuba Raj Khatiwada, Mr. Kitaoka affirmed the importance of speeding up reconstructive support in order to realize “Build Back Better.” This includes fortifying the capital of Kathmandu, restoring rural counties, crafting a reconstruction plan and reconstructing public facilities and infrastructure.
On Dec. 21, Mr. Kitaoka also attended the signing ceremony of two Japanese ODA loan contracts, for the Emergency School Reconstruction Project and Emergency Housing Reconstruction Project. Japan announced its support for the two projects at the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction on June 25.
On Dec. 20, Mr. Kitaoka visited the palace at Bhaktapur Durbar Square, which was greatly damaged in the earthquake, and the Kathmandu-Bhaktapur Road connecting the two cities, which was repaired without delay after the earthquake. Because during the April earthquake cracks and bumps were created in the road, emergency repairs were begun with JICA's cooperation in July, and they were completed in September.
Also, on Dec. 22, Mr. Kitaoka visited Chautara, Sindhupalchowk District, which was one of the places most badly damaged during the earthquake. There he visited the site slated for construction of a training facility to enrich social services for women and children, and he also visited housing ruined by the earthquake. He observed, as well, a training site for carpenters that will be key to future reconstruction of the housing.
2016 is the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Bhutan. Mr. Kitaoka was granted an audience with former and fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck and current and fifth King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, and he met with other key government figures including Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay. He also visited such JICA project sites as the Agriculture Machinery Centre.
On Dec. 23, during Mr. Kitaoka's audience with former King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the king praised the success of Japan’s long years of cooperation, including provision of cultivators through grant aid, and expressed his appreciation. During his audience with current and fifth King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the king expressed his appreciation for Japanese cooperation, particularly the dispatching of volunteers and bridge construction. His majesty also said Bhutan is making effective use of Japanese cooperation to the country and it could be shared with other countries as a good practice of international cooperation.
During Mr. Kitaoka's meeting with Mr. Tobgay, the prime minister expressed his gratitude for the achievements of long cooperation from JICA centered on the agricultural sector in particular, and he said he is hopeful about new cooperation in the roads and disaster risk reduction sectors. They also discussed the administration's governance and the effectiveness of assistance.
On Dec. 25, in the western town of Paro, where Japanese agricultural cooperation has been carried out, Mr. Kitaoka visited sites where Japanese cooperation has spanned more than half a century. He visited Memorial Chorten, a tower built in the memory of the late JICA expert Keiji Nishioka, then saw for himself how the National Seed Centre's greenhouse, culture laboratory and seed processing equipment are being used for the production, development and spread of seeds and saplings. The center was created through Japanese cooperation in the 1980s.
Next he visited the Agriculture Machinery Centre, where cooperation has been going on for 30 years through grant aid, technical cooperation and the dispatching of experts. There he confirmed that the center continues to develop through Japanese cooperation, and that its facilities and equipment are still being used effectively to promote the mechanization of agriculture. He also confirmed that the fruits of that work are being widely disseminated among the people.
Mr. Kitaoka also checked on the status of the configuration of a warning system for weather and flooding through The Project for Capacity Development of GLOF and Rainstorm Flood Forecasting and Early Warning, on the activities of Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers instructing Bhutanese youths in judo, and on the state of the Community Police Center established by Bhutanese police officers who learned the concept of the “koban,” or police box, through training in Japan and Singapore.