Let me start by wishing everyone a happy New Year!
In September last year I took up office in the Netherlands and it is my first time to celebrate New Year here. In my New Year’s Greeting I would like to reflect upon the past year and discuss my ambitions for the coming year as well.
First, I would like to touch upon local politics. As a result of the elections in the Netherlands in May the ruling coalition party lost its majority in the Senate and it has become necessary to pass bills with the cooperation of the opposing party for each case. However, the third cabinet of Prime Minister Rutte, against the backdrop of favourable economic conditions, has continued to work towards a stable administration under his leadership. On the other hand, regarding the issues surrounding the regulation of nitrogen emissions, the agricultural and construction industries have held large-scale demonstrations. Teachers as well have been going on strike for the improvement of their working conditions. These are some difficult challenges for the current cabinet and I will keep observing the political trends in the future.
As for the bi-lateral relations, Prime Minister Abe visited in January last year and held a summit meeting with Prime Minister Rutte where they agreed to continue to keep coordinating and cooperating closely. In June the G20 Summit was held in Osaka and attended by Prime Minister Rutte. Her Majesty Queen Maxima was also present for related events. In addition, the Japanese Imperial enthronement ceremony of last October was attended by the King and Queen of the Netherlands and made this year a milestone in the relationship between the Dutch Royal House and the Japanese Imperial House.
Concerning our economic ties, due to the daily efforts of trade and investment supporting organizations in both the Netherlands and Japan, we have maintained the stable relationship between our countries and increased the number of Japanese companies that expand into the Netherlands. There are tensions over trade issues and uncertainties about the Brexit and the future prospects of the world economy. However, this year as well, we will do our very best as an Embassy to support everyone so that the Japanese economic endeavours within the Netherlands can keep progressing smoothly.
Last year the JCC and Japanese companies cooperated for various cultural events. In autumn the Japan Festival was held in cooperation with Dutch organizations and enterprises and many Japanese and Dutch visitors enjoyed the cultural exchange. Furthermore, the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held in Japan this summer. Additionally, the Working Holiday Program between Japan and the Netherlands will start from the 1st of April this year. Responding to the interest of Dutch citizens to visit Japan, the Embassy works together with the JNTO (Japan National Tourism Organization) to participate in travel fairs and offering information. I myself draw attention to certain topics as well on the Facebook page of our Embassy. We will continue to work hard to promote cultural exchange between our two countries this year through cultural events and by informing people.
The threat of terrorism in the Netherlands remains at an unpredictable, significant level. In March last year there was a shooting which appeared to be an act of terrorism in the city centre of Utrecht and one after the other people suspected of planning terrorist attacks were arrested. To us as an Embassy, ensuring the safety of Japanese residents is a matter of the highest priority among our tasks. To ensure everyone’s safety we will continue to work closely and deepen the cooperation with the Dutch security authorities and provide information on security and terrorism so that everyone can spend their time in the Netherlands with peace of mind.
Moving on to the topic of international organizations, the UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (commonly known as the “Congress”) will be held in spring in Kyoto this year and in fall the judge election of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) will take place. The International Criminal Court (ICC) faces various challenges and at the initiative of its States Parties various efforts for reform are undertaken. For Japan the Rule of Law is the pillar of diplomacy and we will continue, this year as well, to actively contribute to the field of international justice.
With regard to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), in June last year the OPCW Director-General, H.E. Mr. Fernando Arias, was invited to Japan and met with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence and visited Kyoto and Hiroshima. As the sole country in the world that has become the victim of nuclear bombing, we will keep contributing to the international efforts to achieve a world free of chemical weapons, which are also weapons of mass destruction.
In 2020 as well we will endeavour to fulfil the duties of the Embassy together with its staff and we will keep a close eye on the future developments surrounding the Netherlands and Japan. If you have any remarks or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact our Embassy.
I hereby extend my greetings to you, while praying for your happiness and success in the new year!
Ambassador HORINOUCHI Hidehisa
New Year’s Greeting 2020
January 6, 2020