New Year’s Greeting 2024 from Ambassador Minami

Dear everyone,

Let me start by wishing you a happy New Year.

I arrived in the Netherlands last January as Ambassador, and this is my first New Year in the Netherlands. On the New Year’s greeting to you all, I would like to look back on last year and express my ambitions for this year.

Last year, in April, it finally became unnecessary to present a COVID-19 certificate for entering Japan, and a free exchange between the people of Japan and the Netherlands became possible again. On the other hand, the world situation has become increasingly chaotic due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has continued since the year before last, and the conflict between Israel and Hamas in October last year. I hope that this global turmoil will be brought to an end this year.

Regarding the Dutch politics, the opposition Boer Burger Beweging (BBB) won a landslide victory in the provincial elections in March last year, boosted by farmers and dissatisfaction with the current government, and became the top party in the Senate election in May, marking the beginning of a tectonic shift in the Dutch political scene.

On the topic of bilateral relations, the first face-to-face meeting between the leaders of Japan and the Netherlands in approximately five years and eight months took place at the G20 New Delhi Summit in September last year. There they strengthened mutual cooperation in, for example, the field of national security, and Japan received full support from Prime Minister Rutte for Japan’s position on the discharge of ALPS treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station into the sea. The talk was very fruitful.

With regard to economic relations, there are a number of challenges in the Netherlands, including high prices, housing shortages and the nitrogen problem, but I believe that the Dutch government’s policy of rapidly promoting greening, albeit painfully, will remain unchanged. We will keep a close eye on the policies of the new government and continue to strengthen and develop the economic relationship between Japan and the Netherlands in various fields, such as wind power, hydrogen, agriculture and food, and logistics.

As for the Japan Festival in Amstelveen, our booth offered tea and origami experiences using sustainable Japanese ingredients. In March this year, we are also planning to hold the 35th Japanese speech contest with the cooperation of Japanese residents and companies in the Netherlands. We intend to strengthen our cultural communication through our social media this year as well.

Meanwhile, with regard to the security situation, the Dutch government raised the terrorist threat level by one level in December last year amidst the chaotic Israeli-Palestinian situation, and there is a heightened sense of alertness to terrorism. In addition to terrorism, there have also been a number of violent incidents that may harm you, as well as theft, cybercrime, and problems associated with large-scale demonstrations, so you should continue to pay attention to your personal safety. The safety of Japanese residents in the Netherlands is a highest priority for the Embassy of Japan and we will continue to work to ensure their safety by providing timely and appropriate security information via consular mail.

The Netherlands has international organisations such as the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and Japan intends to continue its contribution to international peace and security and the rule of law through these international organisations.

Last year was my first year in the Netherlands and it was a fruitful year for me because I attended many events, met many people and gained a lot of knowledge. It was also very useful to have experiences and encounters that are only possible due to the long history of the relationship between Japan and the Netherlands. In the future, with the cooperation and understanding of Japanese residents in the Netherlands, and keeping an eye on the various developments surrounding Japan and the Netherlands, we will continue to strive to fulfil our responsibilities as the Embassy, together with our staff, to further deepen and develop the relationship between Japan and the Netherlands.

I wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year.
Ambassador MINAMI Hiroshi