Nepal king finds new ally

April 5th, 2008 - 1:23 pm ICT by admin  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, April 5 (IANS) He came to Nepal in the 1960s to climb its mountains and decided to stay on. Ask Takashi Miyahara what made him leave his homeland and set roots in the Himalayan Kingdom, and he has a ready answer.

“I love its natural beauty and the Nepali people,” the 74-year-old mechanical engineer from Kawasaki says. “Except politicians.”

However, as Nepal holds a historic election next week to decide the fate of its 238-year-old monarchy, that is what Takashi himself has become, with his decision to take part in the constituent assembly polls.

Takashi gave up his Japanese citizenship and adopted Nepali citizenship three years ago, becoming, he says, the second foreigner in the last 20 years to have been given citizenship by the choosy Himalayan kingdom.

Then two and a half years ago, he founded his Nepal Rastriya Bikash Party (Nepal National Development Party) that is fighting the April 10 election in support of monarchy.

“When I went to the Terai plains, people ticked me off,” the engineer turned hotelier says with a smile.

“They said we like your manifesto except one thing. Why do you support monarchy?”

Besides the Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal, which is headed by a former royalist minister, Takashi’s is the only party to openly support monarchy.

“I am influenced by the Japan experience,” he says. “During World War II, two million people lost their lives in Japan. And yet, the people forgave their emperor.

“Nepal needs monarchy to retain its unity.

“Look at the top 10 countries in the world. Most of them are monarchies, like Japan and Scandinavia.

“Look at the republics: North Korea, Iraq, the African countries. Most of them are ruled by dictators.”

Takashi advocates a ceremonial monarch who will have no say in the government.

While the cabinet will run the state, the royal household will be managed by parliament.

Takashi’s party is making its poll debut by fielding 11 candidates for the direct elections and 42 for the proportional representation system.

“We have no chance of winning,” he says candidly. “But we are using the election as a plank to put our thoughts before people.”

His 80-page manifesto has detailed policies to develop the nation and industries, boost tourism and protect the environment.

It also proposes shifting the capital from Kathmandu to Narayanghat.

“Kathmandu has outlived itself,” he explains. “Its population has exceeded sustainable limits and will affect the environment as well as cultural heritage.”

To convey these ideas to people, Takashi, who is in the Guinness Book for founding the highest altitude hotel in the world - Hotel Everest View in the foothills of Mt. Everest at a height of 13,000 ft - has sold the land his Nepali wife owned to pay for the poll campaign.

“I am fighting the election not just to enter politics,” he says. “I want Nepal to be developed, like Japan.

“But you can’t have development without politics.”

How does the embattled king feel about his unexpected ally?

“I have no connection with the palace,” Takashi shrugs.

How do the major parties, who are advocating an end to monarchy in this election, feel about him?

“They couldn’t care less,” he laughs. “They are the elephants. To them, I am simply an ant.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in South Asia |