Embassy of Japan in Nepal

People's Exchanges

The 100th Anniversary of Nepali Students in Japan

Summary on A Century of Nepali Students in Japan and Perspective for the 21st Century

April 7, 2002.

In commemoration of a hundred years of Nepali students in Japan, a symposium on A Century of Nepali Students in Japan and Perspective for the 21st Century was jointly organized by the Embassy of Japan and Japan University Students' Association, Nepal (JUSAN) on April 7, 2002 in Kathmandu. On April 29, 1902, eight Nepali youths went to Japan for higher studies at the initiation of the Prime Minister of Nepal.


The symposium was inaugurated by Hon'ble Minister for Education and Sports, Mr. Amod Prasad Upadhaya. He noted the event as a momentous opportunity in building bridges and promoting cooperation between Nepal and Japan. Commending the role of Japan as a major source of financial and technical cooperation in Nepal's development efforts, he said, the list of collaborative efforts completed or undertaken in Nepal with Japanese assistance is long and extensive. Mr. Upadhaya reiterated that Nepal highly valued Japanese cooperation, and emphasized the need for both countries to make a concerted effort to tackle terrorism, which flourishes in poverty, illiteracy, ignorance and indifference.

Speaking at the function, Mr. Takamichi Okabe, Charge d' Affaires of the Embassy of Japan, said that Nepal and Japan were closely linked even 100 years ago, and the friendly relations continue despite physical distance. Apart from connections through Buddhism, many Hindu deities worshipped in Nepal are also revered in Japan. Such commonalities between us have brought us closer, Mr. Okabe said. He said that Japan granted scholarships to Nepal after the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1956.

JUSAN President Dr. Gajendra Baniya delivered a welcome speech and Vice President Dr. Keshab Shrestha extended the vote of thanks at the inaugural session.

First Session
Paper Presentation

The inaugural program was followed by two technical sessions. The first session was chaired by eminent banker Mr. Himalaya Shumsher Rana. Mr. Harendra Barua, a former Monbusho scholar, presented a paper entitled Historical Overview: Pioneer Nepali Students in Japan - A Century Ago. Based on historical documents and personal meetings with relatives of the students and their landlords in Japan, the paper revealed how then Prime Minister Dev Shumsher conceived the idea of sending eight Nepali youths to acquire higher study in Japan. Dev Shumsher could not implement his plan to send Nepali students to Japan. The students went to Japan during Prime Minister Chandra Shumsher Rana's period. The eight students were: Jung Narsingh Rana (22), Bhakta Bahadur Basnet (19), Dev Narsingh Rana (20), Bal Narsingh Raimajhi (20), Deep Narsingh Rana (18), Hem Bahadur Rajbhandari (22), Rudra Lal Singh (27) and Bichar Man Singh (25). Two students were enrolled to study arms technology, one to study mining, and the four to study agriculture, mechanical engineering, chemistry, and ceramics and laquarevace.


Professor Tirtha Mishra commented on the paper, and several participants actively participated in the discussion.

From the chair, Mr. Himalaya Shumsher Rana said that Dev Shumsher, his great grand father, might have used his splendid power of persuasion to send them east crossing seven seas, which was considered sacrilegious in the society at that time. Speculating on the intention of Rana rulers behind sending the students to Japan, Mr. Rana said the autocratic rulers were suspicious of the British rulers in India, and they might have noticed similarities between Japan and Nepal as both the countries had feudal elite and monarchy.

Paper Presentation

The second paper presented in the session was by Professor Emiratus Ryuzo Takayama of Japan on Kawaguchi Ekai and the beginning of cultural exchange between Japan and Nepal. The paper was an outcome of Prof. Takayama's in-depth research on the works of Zen priest Ekai Kawaguchi who was the first Japanese to enter Nepal in 1899. Prof. Takayama explained how the priest visited Nepal four times, and collected Buddhist sutras in Sanskrit including Tripitaka.


Commenting on the paper, Professor Abhi Subedi praised Professor Takayama as a meticulous scholar, and remarked that the paper should be taken as a contribution to history in establishing the fact that Kawaguchi traveled to Tibet via Nepal. Chairman of the session Mr. Himalaya Shumsher Rana remarked that cultural exchange is prevalent in the present, but that it was actually initiated by a humble monk one hundred years ago.

Second Session
Paper Presentation

The second technical session was chaired by Dr. Upendra Man Malla. Eminent economist and former Ambassador to Japan Dr. Badri Prasad Shrestha presented a paper on Contribution of Japan Trained Nepalese to Our Development. The paper accumulated data on a number of Nepali trainees and students in Japan under various technical assistance and scholarship programs. The paper mentioned, 2,824 Nepalese received training in Japan and third countries in various subjects and for varying periods till 2000. Over 40% of such trainings were in the field of science and technology. However, only 73 Nepali students went to Japan for higher studies over a period of 16 years from 1986 to 2002. The paper made some concluding observations on the necessity of precise assessment of the contribution towards development in Nepal by those Nepalese who have had exposure in Japan.


Professor Parthibeswor Timilsina commented on the paper, and several participants actively took part in floor discussions.

From the chair of session II, Dr. Upendra Man Malla speculated that Dev Shumsher, the Rana Prime Minister who introduced Nepal's first newspaper the Gorkhapatra, was well informed about the events of the world including the Meiji era of Japan. Having been impressed by the modernization efforts during the Meiji period he might have thought of sending Nepali students to Japan for higher studies. A new era of friendship was born after the institution of UNO to overcome the hardships stemming from World War II. The development miracles achieved by Japanese people have specifically been an example for many countries. Japan has proved to be a coveted destination for education from different parts of the world specifically from Asian countries. Today, the developing nations of Asia stand to learn and gain much from the Japanese experience. Nepalese students who have got opportunity for higher study and training in Japan have returned well equipped with knowledge and skills of performing the task they are entrusted with. However, such opportunity for Nepali students is very low, Dr. Malla noted in his concluding remarks.

(Contents of discussions and reports by the presenters are not reflected views and opinions of the Embassy)

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