Japan’s foreign minister Taro Kono said Japanese development support to Bhutan would continue, as opportunities to work together are aplenty.

The minister accompanied by Japan’s Ambassador to Bhutan, Kenji Hiramatsu and officials from the foreign ministry and the embassy in India, winded up his three-day visit on the invitation of the government yesterday.

“I’ve come to reiterate the gratitude for Their Majesties visit to Japan after the great tsunami in 2011 which gave us a lot of courage,” he said, adding that Bhutan also showed warmth and hospitality during Her Imperial Highness Princess Mako’s visit last year.

“Bhutan is graduating from the Least Developed Countries category but we’re ready to support its development even after the graduation,” he said. “There are still a lot of opportunities to work together.”

He said that while the 11th Plan is almost over, Japan was happy to cooperate further.

Areas of interest for development cooperation, among others, are agriculture, research in health, tourism, and higher education.   

Ambassador of Japan to Bhutan Kenji Hiramatsu and Ambassador of Bhutan to Japan Major General V Namgyel signed the Exchange of Notes for Grant Aid “Project for Human Resource Development scholarship” worth Japanese Yen 183 million in the presence of the two foreign ministers.

The objective of the project is to develop human resources in various fields for the development of Bhutan through dispatch of Bhutanese to pursue studies and masters or doctoral programme in Japanese Universities. Royal Civil Service Commission will implement the project.

“This project will lead to improving the ability of their policy making in Bhutan and contribute towards further strengthening the friendship and cooperation between Japan and Bhutan,” a press release from Japanese embassy in New Delhi states.

Minister Taro Kono said that higher studies would open the window to go into the international community.

“The visit is highly significant as it is a first ever visit to Bhutan by a Japanese foreign minister and it has further enhanced and strengthened the relations between the governments and the peoples of the two countries,” a press release from the foreign ministry stated.

Taro Kono called on Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay and met with foreign minister Damcho Dorji and exchanged views on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest.

The Japanese foreign minister conveyed the assurances of Japanese government’s continued support and assistance to Bhutan’s socio-economic development in the 12th Plan. Lyonpo Damcho Dorji hosted a banquet in honour of foreign minister on June 23 at the Royal Banquet Hall.

While in the country Taro Kono also visited Japanese-assisted projects, met with JICA experts and volunteers working in Bhutan and visited places of historical and cultural interest.

During the visit, foreign minister Taro Kono received an audience with His Majesty The King and His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo.

Japan is a longstanding development partner of Bhutan and the two countries enjoy close ties of friendship, cooperation and understanding, a press release from the foreign ministry stated.

Minister Taro Kono said that the relationship between the two countries remains special from close relations between members of the Imperial Family of Japan and the Royal family of Bhutan and through regular high level visits.

“Bhutan and Japan also share the same values,” he said.

Minister Taro Kono said that while pursuing development and industrialisation, Japan has lost most of its heritages. Bhutan has villages that resemble to those that Japan had and still has chance to pursue development and save its culture.

Tshering Palden