As much as Bhutan benefitted from its bilateral relationship with Japan, Japan too has benefited, according to Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) executive senior vice president, Kazuhiko Koshikawa.

He was in the country for a four-day visit from September 15 to18.

Kazuhiko Koshikawa said that the Japanese learnt a lot from Bhutan in terms of the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH). “We work too many hours and the idea of happiness shocked our people,” he said. “That’s why today many people in Japan talk about GNH.”

He said young Japanese volunteers, during their stay in the country, learn about GNH. “This is Bhutan’s contribution in developing the human resources of Japan.”

He said that volunteers, who come to Bhutan are not only spending three years abroad but they are also trained or educated, which are meant to learn and develop one’s own capabilities. “This is not a one-side cooperation.”

Kazuhiko Koshikawa also said that His Majesty The King’s speech in 2011 was touching and impressed the Japanese people. “Japan has learnt many lessons over the years as it developed.”

He said that when he was a child, Japan’s sky was overcast with smoke and pollution but today it has overcome the problem. “The country cleaned its rivers from toxic industrial pollution in more than three decades.”

The executive senior vice president said that they made mistakes in the past and learnt from them.

He said that if Bhutan government fails to manage clean rivers and the environment properly, there will be challenges. “That’s why we are talking about waste management as a future cooperation.”

Kazuhiko Koshikawa said that there is a huge scope in cooperation in waste management. For instance Thimphu city is growing and so is the waste problem. “We’ve technology including incinerators, that don’t degrade the surrounding environment.”

He said the local governments are experienced in segregating and collecting garbage. “That can be one sector we can contribute in,” he said. “The core of any cooperation is the human resource.”

Four dzongdags including two female dzongdags will attend a programme arranged by JICA.

JICA Bhutan office’s chief representative, Koji Yamada, said that JICA Bhutan office signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Thimphu thromde last month. However, the promotion of incinerators is not within the scope of the project.

He said that his office works on strengthening connection and interaction between Japanese stakeholders and the developing challenges of Bhutan.

The executive senior vice president inaugurated an art exhibition organised by three Japanese volunteers at the Chungdu Armed Force Public School, Haa on September 15.

He also visited the Dasho Keiji Nishioka museum and chorten in Paro, Trashichhodzong, and few other projects in the Wangdue and Thimphu.

“Many people here speak English fluently, which reflects high level of education in the country. In Japan one can hardly find people on the streets able to speak English,” he said. “This is impressive.”

He said he met many people in small and medium industries in Japan who talked about Bhutan and said the cooperation have been successful. “I came to see for myself.”

He said the machinery that Japan donated about 40 years ago were still in use indicating proper care and maintenance. “The taxpayers in Japan would be happy to know that their money has been used productively.”

Tshering Palden