Japan–Netherlands relations

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Dutch-Japanese relations
Map indicating locations of Japan and the Netherlands



Japanese–Dutch relations (Dutch: Japans-Nederlandse betrekkingen, Japanese: 日蘭関係) describes the foreign relations between Japan and the Netherlands. Relations between Japan and the Netherlands date back to 1609, when the first formal trade relations were established.[1][2]


Curious Japanese watching Dutchmen in the Nagasakiya in Edo.

Medieval trade[edit]

When formal trade relations were established in 1609 by requests from Englishman William Adams, the Dutch were granted extensive trading rights and set up a Dutch East India Company trading outpost at Hirado. They traded exotic Asian goods such as spices, textiles, porcelain, and silk. When the Shimabara uprising of 1637 happened, in which Christian Japanese started a rebellion against the Tokugawa shogunate, it was crushed with the help of the Dutch. As a result, all Christian nations who gave aid to the rebels were expelled, leaving the Dutch the only commercial partner from the West.[2] Among the expelled nations was Portugal who had a trading post in Nagasaki harbor on an artificial island called Dejima. In a move of the shogunate to take the Dutch trade away from the Hirado clan, the entire Dutch trading post was moved to Dejima.[3]

Military cooperation[edit]

After the forcible opening of Japan by Commodore Perry in 1854 it was decided to modernise the Japanese fleet. To do this orders were placed for modern steam powered warships. The first of which was the ZM SS Soembing, a gift from King William III of the Netherlands, which was renamed the Kankō Maru. To train Japanese sailors in the use of these new and powerful ships the Nagasaki Naval Training Center was established literally right at the entrance of Dejima, to maximize interaction with Dutch naval know-how. Among the students at the Nagasaki Naval Training Center was Enomoto Takeaki, one of the founders of the Imperial Japanese Navy.

World War II[edit]

A replica 18th century Dutch windmill fabricated in The Netherlands and then assembled on the shore of Lake Imba near Sakura, Japan in 1994, named in honour of 'The Love' (De Liefde), the first Dutch sailing vessel to reach Japan in 1600. Also notable are the many tulips on the foreground.[4]

Post war Japanese–Dutch relations[edit]

The relations between Japan and the Netherlands after 1945 have been a triangular relationship[clarify]. The invasion and occupation of the Netherlands East Indies during World War II, brought about the destruction of the colonial state in Indonesia, as the Japanese removed as much of the Dutch government as they could, weakening the post war grip the Netherlands had over the territory. Under diplomatic pressure from the United States, the Netherlands recognised Indonesian sovereignty in 1949 (see United States of Indonesia).

Emperor Hirohito landed in the Netherlands for a state visit on 8 October 1971. The visit was controversial because of the World War II troubles, and his delegation had to be protected from protesters.[5] Japanese flags were burned by radical far-left activists of the Red Youth in front of the media and a bomb alert was reported when the Japanese embassy was threatened. The Japanese press reacted furiously to the reception. After the visit, the Dutch government repeatedly apologised to Japan, and the mood in Japan turned positive when Hirohito called the visit a "success."[6]

On the 24 August 2009, the Netherlands released a commemorative 5 euro coin to celebrate 400 years of relations.[7]


Amsterdam has one Japanese-medium day school, The Japanese School of Amsterdam. There is also the Japanese School of Rotterdam.

The Saturday Japanese supplementary schools in the Netherlands include Japanese Saturday School Amsterdam, Den Haag-Rotterdam Japanese Saturday School in Rotterdam, Stichting the Japanese School of Tilburg, and Stichting Maastricht Japanese Supplementary School.[8] The Maastricht school was founded in 1992 as an outgrowth of the Joppenhoff International School. It began with 15 students, and grew as large as 30, but declined in concert with the economy, and as of 2004 enrolled just 20 students.[9] The Saturday School of The Hague and Rotterdam was formed in 1996 from a merger of the two separate Saturday Japanese schools of those cities.[10]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]