His Majesty The King graced the celebration of the 35th Anniversary of Japanese Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) in Bhutan yesterday.

The JICA Volunteer program was formally initiated in Bhutan in 1987, with the signing of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer Dispatch Agreement between the governments of Japan and Bhutan. The first volunteers were sent  to the Agricultural Machinery Centre in Paro in July 1988.

Japan-Bhutan relations, however, stretch back to atleast 1964, when the first Japanese national came to work in Bhutan. In recognition of his services to Bhutan, Dasho Keiji Nishioka was conferred the red scarf by His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo in 1980.

The close relations between Japan and Bhutan have been enriched by the over 641 Japanese nationals who lived and worked across Bhutan through the JOCV programme.

The volunteers have worked to contribute to Bhutan’s development efforts in various sectors, including education, health, ICT, infrastructure, and sports.

The celebration was attended by the Prime Minister, the Ambassador of Japan to Bhutan, and other officials and dignitaries.