Two Landmarks in the History of Japan’s Prime Ministers

Posted 12 months ago by Kp Adhikari

Dr. Madan Kumar Bhattarai

Today is May 27, 2017. We are talking of two landmarks that apply to Japan in terms of its cabinet system of government.

1. Former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone is 99 today making him the second longest surviving former Head of State or Government of any country. We offer sincere greetings to the Japanese leader and wish him continued good health and long life. His son, Hirofumi Nakasone was later Minister in charge of several portfolios including that of Foreign Affairs. Known for strong belief in privatization including that of railways, Nakasone was a tough leader with the habit of making gaffes by his remarks during his comparatively longer tenure of Prime Minister.

Once he caught headlines in 1986 by saying that Americans have a lower intelligence level than Japanese because of the alleged demographic composition consisting of certain section of ethnic population, Nakasone is one of the twelve surviving former Prime Ministers of the country. Out of them, Yoshihiko Noda, immediate predecessor of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in his second term, is the youngest who just celebrated his 60th birthday on May 20. The most recent death of a former Prime Minister was that of Kiichi Miyazawa who was Prime Minister from 1991 to 1993, in June 2007.

A senior politician from Hiroshima, Miyazawa was the distant relative of current Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. Miyazawa was in the limelight in January 1992 for the wrong reason when US President George Herbert Walker Bush Senior fainted and vomited in the lap of Miyazawa in Tokyo during the state dinner. With 14 terms in both chambers of National Diet, he was forced into retirement in 2003 as part of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s plan that required LDP candidates above 73 to be excluded from polls. Koizumi who stole limelight in Japan by bringing in as much as 82 new faces in the new parliament called Koizumi Children, was known for innovative ideas.

Mr. Noda who was the third and last Prime Minister from the Democratic Party of Japan during 2011-12, was taken to be relatively more popular among the three DPJ Prime Ministers during the time of almost annual rotations of the Prime Minister that took place since 2006, a scenario until halted by Prime Minister Abe who took over again as Prime Minister after a gap of five years. Noda is also quite younger in the sense that the median age of Japanese Prime Ministers while calculating their age when they first took over, is 61-plus. Seniormost surviving leader Nakasone is preceded by Tomiichi Murayama in terms of longevity as the latter is now 93-plus years.

The distinction of being the seniormost surviving leader still in this universe goes to Do Muoi, former Prime Minister and ex-head of the Communist Party of Vietnam. Do celebrated his centenary on February 02, 2017. Even in Vietnam, the distinction of becoming the oldest surviving leader is still held by legendary General and hero of several battles including Second World War and Dien Bin Phu veteran General Vo Nguyen Giap who lived till 102 and 40 days when he passed away on October 04, 2013.

Nakasone was Prime Minister of Japan from 1982 to 1987. It is also to be noted that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s father Shintaro Abe who had the distinction of being Japan’s longest serving Foreign Minister until the record has been broken recently by current Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, was a serious candidate to replace him but this was thwarted by Noboru Takeshita. The distinction of becoming the longest surviving Prime Minister of Japan is still unmatched since General Prince Naruhiko Higashikuni survived till 102 years and 48 days when he passed away on January 20, 1990. He seems to have survived by eight more days than General Giap who is taken as one of the most intelligent military strategists of the twentieth century.

Thus Nakasone needs another three years and fortyeight days to surpass the record of Higashikuni. It is quite a customary system in Japan to count days in terms of both age and duration of service. Higashikuni who lost the imperial title after the reorganisation in the imperial family in October 1947 that disenfranchised eleven cadet branches in the imperial family during the occupation era, is so far the only member of the world’s longest unbroken monarchy to ever head a cabinet in Japan.

The present Emperor (Tenno Heika) His Majesty Akihito who will be known by the name of Heisei after the accession to the Chrysanthemum Throne by His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Naruhito, is the 125th in line of the highly esteemed Monarchy that traces its origin to 660 BC. This makes Japanese monarchy at least one century before the birth of Siddhartha Gautam Buddha in Lumbini in Nepal. While there are almost equal percentage of people owing faith in Shintoism and Buddhism in Japan, presence of world heritage sites associated with Buddha make the country unique. The signing of MOU between two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Lumbini and Koyasan on September 20, 2015 can just be a beginning of promising area of cooperation in the field of culture and tourism between Nepal and Japan.

A much controversial figure and founder of Chiba Institute of Technology, Higashikuni who was among several Japanese deputed to France and other European countries to work as apprentices to borrow Western technology as part of Meiji regime’s bid to modernise the country, was appointed Prime Minister under obvious compulsion despite serious reservations on the part of Emperor Showa (Hirohito) and stayed in the post only for 53 days immediately after the end of the Second World War. Higashikuni was related to Showa Tenno at least in four ways apart from becoming the member of the imperial family.

He was Emperor’s uncle twice in the sense that he represented the earlier generation than Showa Tenno in the composite imperial family and Showa Tenno was also Emperor Meiji’s grandson. Higashikuni was the son-in-law of Meiji Tenno having married Meiji Tenno’s ninth daughter Princess Toshiko. The third relation was that Showa Tenno was married to Empress Kojun (formerly Princess Nagako Kuni) who was the daughter of Higashikuni’s half-brother Prince Kuniyoshi Kuni. Empress Kojun (literally meaning fragrant purity) as there is a system of giving posthumous names to both Emperor and Empress, created a new record in the sense that she was the longest surviving Empress Consort in Japanese history. She was Empress Consort from December 25, 1926 to January 07, 1989. She passed away on June 16, 2000 at more than 97 years.

The fourth relation was that Higashikuni’s son, Prince Morihiro Higashikuni was married to Showa Tenno’s eldest daughter Princess Shigeko. Showa Tenno also had the distinction of becoming Japan’s longest reigning Emperor as he was in the seat for more than 62 years from 1926 to 1989. This is in addition to his regency for five years from 1921 to 1926 during the indisposition of his father, Taisho Tenno. Besides the disastrous days of Second World War, Showa Tenno perhaps had the most tumultuous period with ups and downs in Japan’s modern history, not to speak of Great Kanto Earthquake of September 01, 1923 when he was the Regent. It is to his credit that he could see the country rise from ashes and rubbles to become one of the foremost economic and technological powerhouses during his long term.

The killer quake of 1923 had a heavy toll both on human and material terms as large parts of Honshu island were shattered. More than one hundred thousand people were recorded to have been killed with almost half of them disappeared. As Japanese are fast learners from their experiences unlike many other people, they have made a practice to observe September 01 as Disaster Prevention Day. As Japan is our one of our most intimate development partners, we can learn a lot from Japanese experience and there are many areas that Japan can help Nepal in its search for social and economic transformation.

Japan embraced the system of having Prime Minister on December 22, 1885 after the advent of the Meiji era that modernised Japan in a big way making the country one of the foremost economic and naval powers and promulgated Imperial Constitution. This was replaced by the present constitution on May 03, 1947. The document is possibly the only fundamental law of the land in the whole world that has not so far seen a single amendment even in comma and full stop so far despite attempts towards this end from time to time.

If we compare Japanese situation with ours, we find that Nepal adopted the system of appointing Prime Minister, earlier Mukhtiyar, almost a hundred years ago than Japan. The date of Japan’s adoption of the prime ministerial system was just a month after the assassination of Prime Minister Ranoddip Singh Rana Bahadur (Ram Bahadur Rana Bahadur) by his own nephews who started the system of the rule of Satra-Bhai (seventeen sons of Commander-in-Chief Dhir Shumshere Rana Bahadur) in place of Saat-Bhai (seven brothers of Jang Bahadur) that lasted another 65 years.

In constitutional terms too, Nepal adopted the first written constitution in 1948 just after one year of Japan’s current constitution. While Prime Minister Abe is still trying to arrive at some sort of national consensus for undertaking amendments of the fundamental law of the land that remains unchanged for the last seventy years, we have already seen seven constitutions during the last seven decades. One major point that has to be noted here is that Japan extended full support to Nepal in logistics for the second Constituent Assembly elections held in 2013 and was the major country to welcome the promulgation of the new constitution two days before its coming into force as Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida sent a special message to this effect.

The first Japanese Prime Minister was a genius on several terms. He was Hirobumi Ito who proved to be a legendary figure. He is so far the youngest Prime Minister of the country having first taken office at 44 years and 67 days. Besides serving as Prime Minister several times, he was also the founding father of the Imperial Constitution and served as both Genro and first Resident-General of Korea. Ito who was both a top statesman and diplomat, was educated in London. He visited Europe and America from 1871 to 1873 as Vice-Envoy Extraordinary of the famous and path-breaking diplomatic enterprise, the Iwakura Mission that laid the foundation for modernization of Japan. He found American Constitution too liberal and Spanish constitution too despotic. Occasionally, he headed the Privy Council and was also one of the few who was awarded the title of Prince from among non-imperial sections of the society.

A few words on the concept of Genro, a unique and officially informal institution, may also be appropriate. Like courtiers of Rana period who continued to hold sway over governments for quite some time in Nepal despite post-Rana political change of 1951, Genros were founding fathers of Meiji Restoration and commanded respect for their contributions. Seven of a total of nine such high-profile functionaries in the form of Genros were actually members of the Imperial Council, Sangi, before its formal dissolution in 1885.

Likewise, six of the nine Genros had already served as Prime Ministers including Prince Hirobumi Ito, first Prime Minister who was appointed again and again and is one of the longest serving chief executives of the country, and Taro Katsura who holds the record of being in the post for the longest period. Four others were Kiyotaka Kuroda, second Prime Minister, Masaysoshi Matsutaka, Aritomo Yamagato and Kinmochi Saionji who like Ito was given the title of Prince though not belonging to the imperial family. Rest of the three were ministers, top members and even founders of the Japanese Imperial Army and Navy. One of them Kaoru Inoue was the first Foreign Minister and statesman having served first as the member of the founding cabinet led by Hirobumi Ito.

Genros had powerful influence over the government as if they were the incarnations of Shoguns who controlled Japan for hundreds of years. Their influence extended from the choice of Prime Minister to that of virtually every major appointment during Meiji, Taisho and early part of Showa eras. Showa Tenno was apparently not happy with Genros and he meticulously adopted a system of ensuring their natural death by refusing to appoint successors once they passed away. When Showa Tenno took over regency at the end of 1919, only three people were surviving.

The way the Genros tried to influence in the marriage of Showa Tenno was one of the factors that left deep imprint in the mind of the future Emperor. His engagement to Princess Nagako was challenged by Genros and the wedding eventually took place after a gap of five years with special intervention of Taisho Tenno and determined will of Showa Tenno. When Showa Tenno formally took over as Emperor in December 1926, only last of the nine Genros was surviving. Prince Kinmochi Saionji’s death in 1940 ended the system of Genros in Japan.

Despite all achievements at home and abroad, first Prime Minister and top statesman of the country Prince Hirobumi Ito fell to the fury of Korean assassins at Harbin when he was going to negotiate with Russian representative in Manchuria in October 1909. Japan counts 66 people as the country’s Prime Minister so far including those who served on interim capacity too. In fact, the total number to serve is only 62 that makes the average term of Japanese Prime Ministers to just exceed two years. Two Prime Ministers were killed during their terms of office. They included Takashi Hara who was Prime Minister from 1918 to 1921, and Tsuyoshi Inukai who was killed in 1932. Inukai’s great-granddaughter Dr. Sadako Ogata who is now past 89, is an acclaimed author, professor, senior diplomat and UN High Commissioner for Refugees and retired as the President of Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA).

In terms of unnatural deaths, there were two more examples in Japan. Fumimaro Konoe who was Prime Minister for more than one time, consumed cyanide balls to commit suicide in December 1945 as he did not like to appear before the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, more commonly known as Tokyo Tribunal. His grandson and 18th head of the noble family of Kumamoto-Hosokowa line, Morihiro Hosokawa who is a product of reputed Sophia University of Tokyo, became Prime Minister for eight and half months in 1993-94.

Hosokawa came in the limelight once again after twenty years of his short-lived premiership in February 2014 when he stood as a candidate for the post of Governor of Tokyo metropolis. He was overwhelmingly defeated in the elections. Besides losing his own personal prestige, Hosokawa’s defeat also badly dented the prestige of another flamboyant Prime Minister and LDP leader Junichiro Koizumi as he unsuccessfully tried to embarrass his own party and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who was Chief Cabinet Secretary under Koizumi and succeeded him as Prime Minister in 2006.

Hosokawa’s younger brother Tabateru Konoe is the President of Japan Red Cross Society and also head of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and a good friend of Nepal. The other Prime Minister, Hideki Tojo, who was convicted by the Tokyo Tribunal on charge of war crimes and was a General of the Japanese Imperial Army having been deeply involved in the war activities before assuming the position of Prime Minister, was hanged on December 23, 1948.

Takashi Hara was tenth Prime Minister of the country. He was the first commoner to assume the position and also the first Christian in a land that has less than one percent Christian population. In Japan, religion is taken as a mere private affair and very few people talk about it nor do they give that much importance to the faith one has in terms of religion. In a way, few Japanese know about the personal religious faith of their leaders. So far, Japan has appointed eight Christian Prime Ministers.

Therefore, Hara has been succeeded by seven more Christians so far as Prime Minister. They include Korekiyo Takahashi who succeeded Takashi Hara in 1921. The end of the Second World War led to the emergence of at least three prominent Christian Prime Ministers in the first decade. They were Shigeru Yoshida, the maker of post-War II Japan who is known more for his Yoshida doctrine that propelled Japan towards rapid economic resurgence, Tetsu Katayama, the first Socialist to serve as head of government, and Ichiro Hatoyama who was the first Prime Minister of the Liberal Democratic Party, Jiminto in Japanese.

While Yoshida has been the fourth longest serving Prime Minister of Japan and also the first leader to come back after his first term in the post-Second World War era, Hatoyama belongs to a family nicknamed Kennedy family of Japan. The Hatoyamas are known both for political dominance and enormous wealth. Ichiro’s father Kazuo Hatoyama was a Yale University graduate and served as Speaker of the Imperial Diet, and mother Haruko Hatoyama was a famous author and founder of a women’s university.

Three more Christian Prime Ministers of Japan in subsequent years were Masayoshi Ohira, Taro Aso and Dr. Yukio Hatoyama. Yukio Hatoyama’s brother Kunio Hatoyama is a member of the LDP and has served as Minister in the past. Ohira died in 1980 making him the most recent Prime Minister to pass away in harness. Two more Prime Ministers to die in office were Tomosaburo Kato who was Prime Minister in 1922-23 and died of cancer, and Takaaki Kato who was the 14th Prime Minister in office from 1924 to 1926. Takaaki Kato is known more for his career as a diplomat and foreign minister than Prime Minister and died of pneumonia.

Taro Aso who is the grandson of Shigeru Yoshida from his daughter’s side, was Prime Minister from 1908 to 1909. He is also the son-in-law of another Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki and is the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister since December 2012 under the premiership of Shinzo Abe. Dr. Hatoyama who was Prime Minister for less than a year from 2009 to 2010, is the grandson of Prime Minister Ichiro (meaning the first son in Japanese) Hatoyama and son of Iichiro Hatoyama who became Foreign Minister who came to Nepal on an official visit in 1977. Out of eight Christian Prime Ministers, Shigeru Yoshida was Prime Minister for a total period of 2,614 days.

Three other Prime Ministers who served for longer periods were Taro Katsura (2,883), Eisaku Sato (2,797) and Prince Hirobumi Ito (2,716) respectively. As already explained, Ito was the youngest Prime Minister of the country in his first term in office. The oldest man to assume the post of Prime Minister was Kantaro Suzuki who took over at 77 years and 79 days. The youngest Prime Minister to die in Japanese history Sanetomi Sainjo passed away at 53 years and 352 days and was the third Prime Minister of Japan.

2. One common factor between former Prime Minister Nakasone and current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is that Abe’s father Shintaro Abe was Foreign Minister during almost the whole period of Nakasone. Prime Minister Abe sets a new record today as he has equalled the period of his immediate predecessor in the first term, Junichiro Koizumi in terms of service as Prime Minister. Today he completes 1979 days. From tomorrow, he would be counted as the fifth longest serving Prime Minister of the country. I have already given the timeframes of four other Prime Ministers who served the country for the longest periods in history.

Abe also has several distinctions to his credit. He was the youngest post-War II Prime Minister when he first took over office in 2006. He was also the first Japanese chief executive to be born after the War. He made a new record as the first Jiminto leader to stage a political comeback as Prime Minister and the second post-War Japanese leader to do so after Shigeru Yoshida who is the fourth longest serving Prime Minister. Abe like many Prime Ministers comes from a politically active family as both his father Shintaro Abe and grandfather Kan Abe were active politicians. His mother Yoko Kishi was the daughter of Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi who was Prime Minister from 1957 to 1960 and it is said that Prime Minister Abe has borrowed many of his grandfather’s qualities.

Nobusuke Kishi’s younger brother Eisaku Sato was the second longest serving Prime Minister of Japan and a Nobel Prize winner. Abe intends to follow the path shown by Sato in hosting the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2020 as his granduncle had done in 1964 showcasing Japan’s miraculous post-War achievements in science and technology as Tokyo introduced bullet train and monorails apart from an array of tunnels and flyovers. The second of the three brothers, Prime Minister Abe’s youngest brother who adopts the family name of his maternal side, Nobuo Kishi, is the senior State Minister for Foreign Affairs.

As already explained, Prime Minister Abe was Chief Cabinet Secretary to Prime Minister Koizumi and the holder of the post is taken as a stepping stone to premiership since nine such people have succeeded to the post of Prime Minister so far. It is taken as the most powerful post that was created in 1947 after the constitution took effect. The position of Chief Cabinet Secretary is taken as the number two position in the cabinet even though technically the Deputy Prime Minister when appointed as at present since the formation of the second Abe Cabinet in December 2012, is counted as number two. So far, only one female, Mayumi Moriyama, has occupied the post as she held the post for a shorter period during 1989-90.

Both Abe’s father Shintaro Abe who was Foreign Minister and grand-uncle Eisaku Sato served as Chief Cabinet Secretary in the past. The current incumbent in the post, Yoshihide Suga created a new record as the longest serving Chief Cabinet Secretary in Japan’s history when he beat Yasuo Fukuda who held the previous record of longest serving Chief Cabinet Secretary, in July 2016. Suga was also a member of the cabinet under Prime Minister Abe during his first term in 2006-07.
Fukuda was also Prime Minister later as was his father Takeo Fukuda. A close confidant of Prime Minister Abe, Suga has his office at the official residence of the Prime Minister indicating how close the two individuals should be in terms of smooth discharge of their respective duties.

Japan has so far appointed two female Foreign Ministers. The first was Makiko Tanaka, only child of one of the most powerful Prime Ministers in Japanese history, Kakuei Tanaka who wielded powers even after his political retirement that led many to dub him as Yami Shogun. She married Naoki Suzuki who adopted his wife’s surname Tanaka. Both of them quite active in politics of LDP later joined DPJ in 2009 and became ministers again. Tanaka was Foreign Minister for less than a year in 2001-2002 until she was fired for criticising her own Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. The other female Foreign Minister was Yoriko Kawaguchi who served from 2002 to 2004. She is highly educated and quite active globally in promoting non-proliferation activities around the world as co-chairs with former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth John Evans.

Likewise, Japan has so far appointed two lady Defence Ministers, Yuriko Koike and Tomomi Inada. Both are high-profile persons. Koike who left the job during Prime Minister Abe’s first term in just 54 days of her taking over the post, created another record of being the first female governor of Tokyo metropolis when she was elected in 2016. She is one of the Koizumi Children propelled by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to destroy the hold of senior party leaders. Inada is the current incumbent and is known for her strong conservative views on many subjects and is projected to be a leader of promising future among ladies as Japan has not so far elected any lady Prime Minister. She enjoys close political affinity and rapport with Prime Minister Abe.

The Jiminto, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), is taken as possibly the most fortunate among the centrist democratic parties in the world’s parliamentary history since it has been in power throughout its existence since its founding in 1955 except two brief stretches of 1993-94 and 2009-2012 that jointly amount to a period of four years. In other words, the LDP formed with the merger of two parties, Liberal Party led by Shigeru Yoshida and Japan Democratic Party headed by Ichiro Hatoyama, is in power for more than 57 years during its existence of more than 61 years.

So far, twentyfive people have been elected to the post of the President of Jiminto with Prime Minister Abe having the sole distinction of serving the party as its chief in two non-consecutive terms. As it is customary in Japan for the party chief to simultaneously hold the office of the Prime Minister when the party is in power, only two Presidents of the party, Yohei Kono (1993-95) and Sadakazu Tanigaki (2009-12) who is very close to Nepal, were not lucky to hold the office of the chief executive as they headed the party when it was out of power for a short period.

Prime Minister Abe seems to have a special relationship with the month of September and even with the particular date of the month. He was born on September 21 in 1954. He became Prime Minister for the first time on September 26, 2006 and also tendering his resignation on September 26 itself after one year in 2007. After passing five years in virtual political bewilderment, Abe stole limelight by being elected party President once again on September 26, 2012.

During his second term as Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe has created a new record for being the most widely travelled chief executive in Japan’s history. He has also activated Japan’s diplomacy as the country has so far largely been keeping a comparatively low profile in the international arena. He is also responsible for getting his party enjoy overwhelming majority in both chambers of National Diet after many years. This may be useful in getting the tricky issue of constitutional amendments despite obvious difficulties on this score on psychological grounds.

Prime Minister Abe has focused on three-arrow economic reforms called Abenomics in order to resuscitate Japanese economy. Along with this challenge, he has to resolve and confront issues like relations with the United States after the last presidential elections, China and North Korea in coming days. Apart from his personal popularity and strong organisational base of the Jiminto, one more favourable point for the party and Prime Minister Abe is the low level of popularity enjoyed by highly fragmented opposition forces.

Jiminto’s constitution provided for two consecutive terms of three years each to the party president until amended recently on March 05, 2017 that allows three consecutive terms of three years. Abe was re-elected for the second term on September 08, 2015. He needs to be re-elected in September 2018 that would start his last three-year tenure in office. Similarly, general elections are to be held latest by December 2018. If the present trend continues for the next year, there is a possibility of Prime Minister Abe being re-elected for the party president and Jiminto winning general elections at the same time. In case of that eventuality, Prime Minister Abe may hold the record of being the longest serving Prime Minister of the country as he can stay in the post till September 2021.

Prime Minister Abe is married to Akie Abe who was born in 1962, since 1987. She is possibly the most prominent socialite having non-traditional and even outspoken views among the spouses of the Japanese Prime Minister. She is very active on social media and those not charitable to her and Prime Minister, sarcastically call her “domestic opposition party”. She is a Roman Catholic by faith. They have no children.

One more point for comparison with Nepal is that Japan has so far appointed 22 deputy prime ministers, a position mostly interrupted by several years. This practice that started with the coming into force of the present constitution on May 03, 1947, compares well with our practice of so far appointing 28 people to the post after first such experiment in 1959.

Last but not least, when we talk of Prime Ministers of Japan, we can never forget the contributions of Ryutaro Hashimoto who was Prime Minister of the country for two and half years from 1996 to 1998. A keen photographer and lover of Himalayas, he visited Nepal 33 times and once was in our country as head of the Japanese segment of the tripartite expedition to Mount Sagarmatha. He has brought out a photography book including Nepal and his wife Kumiko Hashimoto and son Gaku Hashimoto named after mountain, have precious collections of photographs on Nepal.

To conclude, let us extend our best wishes and sincere greetings to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for all success as he becomes the fifth longest serving Prime Minister of the country from tomorrow as we vividly recollect his personal contributions as well as selfless donations made by the Japanese friends and organizations in our endeavours to collect the record amount on private terms for the Prime Minister Disaster Relief Fund at the time of the devastating earthquake of April 25, 2015.
Prime Minister Abe was also instrumental in restoration of ODA to Nepal in 2013 after a gap of twelve years as it was suspended owing also to our period of insurgency. May Nepal-Japan ties of friendship and cooperation register new heights in coming years!

(*The writer is a retired career diplomat having served as Foreign Secretary and Ambassador of Nepal to Germany. He was Ambassador to Japan from 2011 to 2015 and is serving as Foreign Policy Adviser to President of Nepal since February 2016. The opinions expressed in this article are personal and in no way reflect his past and present associations with the Government of Nepal.)

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