Table Speech

“Yoneyama Month” Meeting
Contribution to the Society and
Nation-Building as a Yoneyama Alumnus

October 1, 2014

Dr. Ram Giri
Yoneyama Scholar 1998-2000
Researcher, International Information Division,
Mitsui Global Strategic Studies Institute

 I am deeply honored to be invited to the Rotary Club of Tokyo to make a table speech today from three perspectives. Firstly, I am honored to speak as a Nepalese at the very first RC established in Japan, which has become one of the top three Clubs around the world today. Secondly, as I work for Mitsui, I feel honored to learn that this Club was founded by Umekichi Yoneyama and Kisouji Fukushima who worked for Mitsui & Co., Ltd. and became the first Japanese Rotarians. Thirdly, I am indebted to the RCs and the Yoneyama Memorial Foundation for my current position.

 I am from Pokala at the foot of the Himalayas in Nepal and came to Japan in 1994. I chose to come to Japan because I was deeply impressed by the diligence, honesty and hard work of 200 Japanese people who I worked with in Nepal over one year, supported by the official development assistance from Japan. I realized that the superior educational system since prewar times in this country played an instrumental role in bringing economic prosperity. Stories on Umekichi Yoneyama and the Yoneyama Memorial Foundation taught me that educational reform was the top priority in Nepal and I established the Hokkaido Mardikhola Nepal Educational Foundation in 1997. During the past 16 years, we have been providing scholarships to 1,800 students who became physicians and lawyers. I realized anew the importance of education.

 The merit of Rotary lies in the fact that each Rotarian makes a small contribution to make big achievements, such as the polio eradication program. Bill Gates has given a considerable financial support, but Rotary plays a leading role to attract many other Rotarians. I hope to keep working with you to implement our activities in the field of education.

 The Yoneyama Memorial Foundation supported 800 scholars each year until recently. Today, it supports 700 scholars. A total number of 18,200 Yoneyama alumni from 121 countries are active and successful in many different fields and we all love Japan. Thanks to the Sewa (Host) Club, the scholars feel connected and attached. I think this spirit leads to world peace. People around the world should learn from how the Japanese chose to forgive each other after the War and overcame the devastating damages to achieve prosperity. Yoneyama alumni ought to convey this spirit of forgiveness. Being a Rotarian myself of the Tokyo Yoneyama Yuai (fraternity) RC founded five years ago, I am committed to return the favors I received.

 I think ahead about how to achieve economic development in Nepal without causing environmental destruction. Nepal is the birthplace of Buddha and the land of peace. We are a landlocked country situated between India and China. Nepal has not achieved economic development yet but we are about to ride on the upswing economy enjoyed by India and China.

 Nepal is blessed with water resources from the Himalayas that enable low-cost hydroelectric power generation at about 2 Japanese yen per 1 kWh. Initial investment costs 120 million yen per 1 MW. If I compare with other sources of power generation, solar power generation costs 250 million yen and wind power generation costs 200 million yen. We plan to sell electricity to India and also attract foreign businesses, especially those dependent on electricity.

 I wish to make a contribution to the nation-building and development of Nepal, by shifting from charity work to investment, based on my 10-year experiences and know-how acquired in a leading company in Japan. If you are interested in helping us, please contact me. Nepal is now what Japan was back in the 1950s. Whatever we do, we will become a pioneer. I believe that collaboration between Nepal and Japan will be mutually beneficial for our countries.