Japan and the Netherlands – A deep-rooted friendship

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Japan and the Netherlands – A deep-rooted friendship

In 1609, the Dutch and Japanese established their first official trade-relations. As the relationship flourished, Dutch traders were granted the Dejima Island as a trading post in 1641 and were the only Europeans permitted on Japanese territory.

The Dutch not only traded with their Japanese counterparts but also exchanged scientific and technological knowledge garnered from the industrial advances being made across Europe. This Rangaku movement or ‘Dutch learning’ fueled Japan’s radical technological advancement and modernization.

At the end of the Edo period in 1858, Japan had begun trading with foreign powers and shifting away from the country’s isolationist ‘Sakoku’ or ‘closed country’ foreign policy. Diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of the Netherlands were established and as the two countries enter their sixteenth decade of bilateral relations, their ties remain just as strong today.

“This long-term and flourishing partnership shows no signs of slowing down”, says Hiroshi Inomata, Japanese Ambassador to the Netherlands. “Today, the Netherlands is second only to the United Kingdom in terms of Japanese foreign investment in Europe”.

With the United Kingdom’s ‘Brexit’ on the horizon, the Netherlands could become the number one destination for Japanese investment on the continent.

Mr Hiroshi Inomata Japanese Ambassador in the Netherlands

“We are seeing movement from several United Kingdom based companies as they move their operations to the Netherlands”, says Kenji Saito, Chairman of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Netherlands. “Despite the relatively small size of the country, the Netherlands could soon become Japan’s number one investment destination in Europe”.

According to the Dutch-Japanese Trade Federation (DUJAT); the Netherlands’ location, logistics capabilities, English-language ability, international working-environment, stable government and strong economy offer investors from Japan and elsewhere a ‘complete package’.

Geert Jan Mantel, DUJAT chairman and Christa de Kemp-Everts, DUJAT managing director are spearheading the federation’s desire to create a strong time in order to encourage increased trade between Japan and the Netherlands.

“We are linking Dutch and Japanese companies, in both Japan and the Netherlands, and we do this through an attractive program where we organize meetings, seminars and social gatherings as well as visiting Japan at least once a year” says Mantel.

While trading has brought the Netherlands and Japan closer together, another reason for the close connection shared by the two countries may lay in their strong cultural ties, reciprocal social appreciation for each other’s society and the friendships established between Dutch and Japanese people.

“There is only one word to describe the relationship with Japanese people, and that is trust. And when trust is built, then the long lasting relationship is becoming inevitable” says de Kemp.

“Dutch ‘straight-forwardness’ is a good match with Japanese ‘low-profile’ modest”, says Inomata. “The Dutch way of communicating directly has enabled our two countries to understand each other very well. As Ambassador, my time in the Netherlands is very enjoyable and I encourage more Japanese people and companies to visit the Netherlands and gain a better understanding of the country, its culture and its people”.

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