Nepal-Japan relations date back to the late eighteenth century. The relationship became formal with the establishment of diplomatic relations on 01 September 1956. The relations between the two countries are marked by friendliness, goodwill and cooperation. Nepal established its embassy in Tokyo in 1965 and Japan established its embassy in Kathmandu in 1967. Nepal has Honorary Consulate in Osaka. Japan is a longstanding friend and a major development partner of Nepal. Both countries celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of the establishment of their diplomatic relations in 2016 by organizing various programs and exchanging high level visits.
Japanese Buddhist Monk, Rev. Ekai Kawaguchi first came to Nepal on his way to Tibet in 1899 in search of holy Buddhist scriptures. He introduced Nepal and highlighted the importance of Lumbini to Japanese people through his writings and publications. During the Rana Regime in Nepal, eight Nepali students had visited Japan for pursuing higher education in between 1902-1905, which made Nepalis to come closer to Japanese culture and technology.
Exchange of Visits
High-level exchanges of visits between the two countries have contributed to further strengthen the bilateral relations. Growing engagements at the people-to-people levels have contributed to further expanding these relations.
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Mr. Pradeep Kumar Gyawali paid an official visit to Japan from 1 to 5 November 2018 at the invitation of Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, H. E. Mr. Taro Kono. During the visit, Hon. Foreign Minister held delegation level bilateral talks with his Japanese counterpart and met with Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan H.E. Mr. Takamori Yoshikawa, General Secretary of LDP and Chairman of Japan-Nepal Parliamentary Friendship League H.E. Mr. Toshihiro Nikai, President of JICA and other high-level officials of the Government of Japan.
Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Hon. Mr. Bhanubhakta Dhakal visited Japan from 8 to 12 October 2018 to attend the 57th session of Asian African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO).
Likewise, recent high-level visits from Japan to Nepal include the visit of Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan H.E. Mr. Taro Kono from 9 to 10 January 2019. During the visit, the Foreign Ministers of Nepal and Japan held delegation level bilateral talks. Foreign Minister H.E. Mr. Kono paid courtesy calls on the Rt. Hon. President and the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of Nepal.
Nepal and Japan have established Bilateral Consultative Mechanism between the Foreign Ministries. The Mechanism provides an opportunity for both sides to discuss on various aspects of bilateral relations and sharing views on common interests in regional and multilateral forums. The first and second meetings of the Mechanism were held in March 2015 and June 2016 in Tokyo and Kathmandu respectively. A Memorandum of Cooperation was signed in Kathmandu on 9 January 2019 between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Nepal and the Government of Japan on Conducting Bilateral Consultations during the visit of Foreign Minister of Japan to Nepal.
With a view to further strengthening and streamlining the existing economic and technical co-operation between Nepal and Japan, the two countries have signed the Agreement on Technical Cooperation on 3 September 2003. The Agreement is an umbrella framework, which covers areas including training, Japanese experts, volunteers, study missions, project type assistance, machinery and equipment and development studies. On the basis of the Agreement, the two Governments would enter into separate agreements to carry out mutually agreed upon specific technical cooperation programs.
Air Service Agreement: The Air Service Agreement (ASA) was signed between Nepal and Japan on February 17, 1993. Exchange of Notes revising the schedule of the ASA signed in 1993 was signed in Kathmandu on 9 January 2019 during the visit of Foreign Minister of Japan.
MoU on Training Nepali Industrial Workers in Japan: The Ministry of Labour and Transport, Government of Nepal has also signed the MoU with the Japan International Training Cooperation Organization (JITCO) on 03 December 2003 on Training Nepali Industrial Workers in Japan.
As per the recently revised immigration law, the Government of Japan has included Nepal as one of the source countries for its labor market.
Japan has been contributing to the socio-economic development of Nepal since 1954. Japan assists Nepal in the forms of bilateral grant, bilateral loan, multilateral aid and technical assistance. Japan has also been assisting Nepal for the promotion of peace and democracy. The major areas of Japanese economic cooperation to Nepal include human resource development, health, agriculture development, infrastructure development, environment protection, culture, etc.
Japan also provides concessional loan for the infrastructure development in Nepal. Tanahun Hydro, Nagdhunga tunnel, and Improvement of Water Supply Improvement projects are ongoing projects under this scheme.
On human resource development, Japan has been providing annual scholarships to Government officials of Nepal in various fields under the Japan Development Scholarship (JDS) scheme starting from 2016. The Government of Japan started providing technical training to Nepali students since Japan joined the Colombo Plan in 1954. Japan also provides Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) and Senior Volunteers to Nepal under JICA Volunteer Program. JOCV Nepal program was launched in 1970.
The Government and people of Japan extended spontaneous support in the aftermath of 2015 earthquakes in Nepal. The Japanese Government had announced to provide NRs 26 billion grant for reconstruction works of Nepal.
Trade and Investment
Japan is one of the important trading partners of Nepal. Nepal’s major exports to Japan include pashmina products, ready-made garments, woolen goods, carpets, handicrafts, Nepali paper and paper products, leather goods, and silverware and ornaments to Japan. Likewise, Nepal’s major imports from Japan include vehicles and spare parts, electronic goods, machinery and equipment, iron and steel products, photographic goods, medical equipment and fabric. There is an ample scope of collaboration in trade sector by introducing Japanese production process or integrating product development by exporting niche raw materials to Japan. In the FY 2017/18, Nepal’s export to Japan remained above USD 9.9 million and import above USD 74.2 million.
Japan is one of the major source countries of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Nepal. The total FDI amount from Japan up to FY 2017/18 was approximately USD 30 million and in the FY 2017/18 alone it remained approx. USD 4.33 million.
Tourism and Culture
Nepal is an attractive destination for Japanese tourists. Lumbini, the Himalayas, age-old traditions and cultural artifacts, temples and genial nature of Nepali people are some of the attractions to the Japanese tourists. In the year 2018, 29,768 Japanese tourists visited Nepal. Both countries celebrated 2016 as the 60th Anniversary of the first successful ascent to the Mount Manaslu by Japanese Alpinist Minoru Higeta. She had scaled the peak on May 11, 1956. The sister-city relationship was established between two renowned UNESCO World Heritage Sites-Lumbini of Nepal and Koyasan of Japan in September 2015.
It is estimated that the number of Nepali nationals living in Japan is above 87,000. Nepali community is the 7th largest foreign communities in Japan. Every year thousands of Nepali students go to Japan to pursue higher studies and Japanese languages. Japan is the second most preferred destination of abroad study to the Nepali students.
Cooperation in regional and multilateral forums
Japan is an observer to SAARC since April 2007. SAARC-Japan Special Fund (SJSF) has facilitated implementation of many activities. Nepal and Japan have been working closely on the matters of mutual concerns and assisting each other to the best of their capacity in the multilateral forums including in the United Nations.
Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs
North East Asia Division
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
As of February 2019