On a momentous day of cultural exchange and friendship, His Majesty The King, alongside dignitaries from Bhutan and Japan, graced the celebration of the 35th Anniversary of Japanese Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) in Bhutan. This special occasion marked a significant milestone in the enduring partnership between Japan and Bhutan, symbolizing a shared commitment to mutual growth and cooperation.
The roots of this partnership trace back to 1987 when the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Volunteer program was formally initiated in Bhutan. This historic initiative was realized with the signing of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer Dispatch Agreement between the governments of Japan and Bhutan. The first group of Japanese volunteers embarked on their journey to Bhutan in July 1988, arriving at the Agricultural Machinery Centre in Paro. Since then, the JOCV program has blossomed into an avenue of sustainable cooperation, promoting socio-economic development and fostering cross-cultural friendships.
Yet, the foundation of Japan-Bhutan relations extends further back, reaching at least as far as 1964, when the first Japanese national came to work in the mystical Kingdom of Bhutan. The spirit of cooperation and goodwill found its embodiment in Dasho Keiji Nishioka, who dedicated himself to Bhutan’s progress. In recognition of his exceptional services to the nation, Dasho Keiji Nishioka was honored with the prestigious red scarf by His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo in 1980, highlighting the deep-rooted bonds between the two nations.
Over the course of these decades, the close relations between Japan and Bhutan have flourished, thanks to the invaluable contributions of over 641 Japanese nationals who have lived and worked across Bhutan through the JOCV program. These volunteers have wholeheartedly engaged in Bhutan’s development efforts across various sectors, such as education, health, information and communication technology (ICT), infrastructure, and sports. Their dedication has left an indelible mark on the country’s landscape, contributing to Bhutan’s pursuit of progress and well-being.
The 35th Anniversary celebration was a remarkable gathering attended by esteemed individuals, including the Prime Minister of Bhutan and the Ambassador of Japan to Bhutan, as well as other officials and dignitaries. The event served as a platform to express gratitude and appreciation for the harmonious cooperation between the two nations, fostering understanding and collaboration in a world that is often marked by divisions.
As Bhutan and Japan move forward into the future, this enduring partnership continues to serve as a beacon of diplomacy and collaboration. The celebration of the 35th Anniversary of the JOCV program in Bhutan reaffirms the commitment of both nations to fostering global harmony and sustainable development. It stands as a testament to the power of collaboration and the enduring friendship between the people of Bhutan and Japan.