Verhagen calls for international cooperation during Japan visit

The Netherlands believes it is very important that countries like Japan take an active approach to international cooperation, said Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Verhagen following his meeting with Hirofumi Nakasone, his Japanese counterpart, in Tokyo on Tuesday. He expressed the hope that the Netherlands and Japan will cooperate more often on international matters in the future.

Mr Verhagen said that the Netherlands and Japan are natural allies with shared values, which both attach great importance to human rights, peace and stability. He added that in a world in which borders are becoming increasingly blurred, it is more important than ever to work together to ensure that everyone observes the international rules.

Mr Verhagen spent two days in Japan to mark the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Next year the Netherlands and Japan will be celebrating 400 years of trade relations.

Mr Verhagen also discussed Japan’s war legacy with Mr Nakasone. He emphasised how important it is that Japan should never forget or deny the hunger, disease, violence and sexual abuse suffered by Dutch civilian internees and prisoners of war during the Second World War.

'Through Mr Nakasone, speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Aso, the Japanese government has repeated its remorse for what happened, and again expressed its sincere apologies,’ Mr Verhagen explained. He called on Japan to continue with the special Dutch-Japanese exchange programme which enables former internees or their relatives to visit Japan to help the healing process.

On Monday Mr Verhagen, accompanied by a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and Japanese schoolchildren, laid a wreath at the British Commonwealth War Cemetery in Yokohama, where 21 Dutch prisoners of war are buried.

In Tokyo he presented the Deshima Award to two Dutch companies for their outstanding performance in the Japanese export market: ASML, which manufactures complex machines critical to the production of integrated microchips, and the innovative umbrella manufacturer SENZ. 'International enterprise is vital to the Dutch economy,’ said Mr Verhagen in presenting the award. 'We need people like you – practical businesses with a realistic approach – more than ever after the recent financial crisis. The Dutch government will be offering all the support it can.'