What is the role of the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce in Japan?
We help newcomers find their way when moving to Japan. Through the events which we host and the sharing of relevant information, we create a valuable network for our members. These include employees of Dutch companies in Japan, both Dutch and Japanese, Dutch professionals and entrepreneurs and young professionals working in Japan.
We work closely with the local Embassy and other Japan/Netherlands related organization to host larger events together and we are also a member of the EBC (European Business Council). This council represents Europe and tries to protect and improve the trade and investment environment for European companies.
How would you define the partnership between the Netherlands and Japan in terms of business and cultural ties?
The Netherlands and Japan have a unique partnership which goes back over 400 years ago and the history between both countries is well known. It can be said that Japan and the Netherlands are on opposite extremes and quite different: for example, Dutch people are known for their direct way of communicating in a ‘low context’ environment, while Japanese people are known for being somewhat indirect in their communications.
Although there are clear differences, both countries partner well when it comes to business. I personally believe that the long history and the mutual respect shared by both countries plays an important role. My Japanese colleague recently referred to the win of Judo legend Anton Geesink at the 1964 Olympics. He earned nation-wide respect while beating the Japanese Gold medal candidate because he understood and respected the rules of the game.
Both the Japanese and Dutch Royal families are in contact with each other. Japan was the first non-European country visited by King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands in November 2014. It was the first time in five years that Empress Masako, then Princess Masako, appeared in public to attend the ceremony. We hope the NCCJ is able to contribute to the current and future relationship between both countries.
What message do you have for our readers regarding the work of the NCCJ post-pandemic?
As with many organizations, during the pandemic, we were unable to deliver the expected value to our members in terms of hosting events. We shifted to digital platforms and this gave us new opportunities; while we normally only have speakers who are residing in or visiting Japan, we have recently held online events and invited speakers from other Asian countries and many people from the Netherlands joined our online events.
Moving forward we want to involve more international parties and people with the NCCJ. We will create a wider network of professionals and better support individuals and companies as they consider entering Japan. We want to be seen as a first touchpoint for people interested in Japan.