June 27, 2014
King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, left, meets with JICA President Akihiko Tanaka.
JICA President Akihiko Tanaka visited Bhutan June 17-20. He paid courtesy calls to former fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, current fifth King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, and key government figures including Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay.
Tanaka participated in a 50th anniversary commemoration ceremony for cooperation between Japan and Bhutan and attended the inauguration of the Dasho Nishioka Memorial Museum, established in the Agriculture Machinery Center, and also visited the sites of JICA projects.
In his courtesy call on the former fourth king on June 19, the fourth king praised Japan's sustained cooperation toward Bhutan in the field of agriculture that contributed greatly to improving the standard of living in the country. Singled out for praise were the late JICA Expert Keiji Nishioka, who was active in Bhutan for 28 years beginning in 1964, and JICA Expert Yuichi Tomiyasu, who is currently active in the eastern part of the country.
In Tanaka's courtesy visit to the current king on June 19, the king expressed his appreciation for Japan's cooperation, and in particular for cooperation through people, such as experts and volunteers. The king discussed with Tanaka future rural agriculture and agricultural development in Bhutan, as well as ideas relating to the One Village One Product project.
Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, right, talks with JICA President Akihiko Tanaka.
In Tanaka's talks with Tshering Tobgay on June 18, the prime minister expressed his gratitude to JICA for the fruits of long cooperation in the field of agriculture in particular, and expressed his hopes for future cooperation. They discussed JICA's cooperation in the five development areas being emphasized under the current administration: hydroelectric power generation, agriculture, tourism, promoting small- and medium-sized enterprises, and sustainable mining resource development.
On June 18, in an event jointly hosted by the Embassy of Japan in India and the JICA Bhutan Office, the 50th anniversary commemoration ceremony for cooperation between Japan and Bhutan was held with Bhutanese Foreign Minister Rinzin Dorje as the guest of honor. With some 80 senior government officials in attendance, including related cabinet ministers, as well as resident representatives of JICA's development partners, Tanaka talked about the results of JICA's cooperation so far, and he announced that JICA will provide cooperation for the Bhutanese government's third Gross National Happiness Survey to be carried out beginning this year. The event was an opportunity for the two countries to affirm their intention to deepen their cooperation.
JICA President Akihiko Tanaka, right, participates in the Dasho Nishioka Memorial Museum inauguration ceremony.
On June 17, Tanaka visited historical sites related to 50 years of Japanese agricultural cooperation in the western village of Paro, where Japanese agricultural cooperation developed.
At the National Seed Center of Bhutan, established 20 years earlier through grant aid, Tanaka visited a tower built in the memory of Nishioka on the center's grounds and expressed his respect for Nishioka's long years of activity in Bhutan. He observed that the center's activities are being carried out smoothly, with its facilities and machinery still being used carefully today.
At the Agriculture Machinery Center, he participated in the inauguration of the Dasho Nishioka Memorial Museum, established inside the center to extol the achievements of Nishioka and hand them down to future generations. At the museum, he saw photographs and video from the past that illustrate Nishioka's achievements in the field of agriculture in Bhutan.
In addition, Tanaka observed the activities of Senior Volunteers developing food processing using surplus agricultural produce, those of Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) guiding research and development on mushroom cultivation and those of JOCV improving nutrition at Thimphu General Hospital and caring for dialysis patients there.