Amsterdam mission builds on relationship with Japan

Amsterdam mission builds on relationship with Japan

The long-standing relationship between the Amsterdam Area and Japan provided a strong foundation for a recent trade mission to Osaka and Tokyo which took place from 23 to 29 September 2012.

As part of the mission, two well-attended investment seminars were organised in collaboration with the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ, the first Japanese company to establish operations in Amsterdam in 1963. As a result of the seminars, around 20 companies expressed a keen interest in investing in the Amsterdam Area. These potential investors will receive intensive support in the coming period. Headed by mayors Eberhard van der Laan (Amsterdam) and Jan van Zanen (Amstelveen,) the delegation visited 20 companies. During a visit to Mitsubishi Aircraft, the company was presented with a bid book highlighting the benefits of setting up a European service centre in the Netherlands for the new jets Mitsubishi Aircraft is about to market. During a meeting with Baron Okura, owner of the Okura Hotel Amsterdam (which has now been in the city for more than 40 years), a commitment was made to organise an exhibition in Amsterdam featuring part of the Japanese collection of the Okura Museum of Art.

Consisting of several providers of services to Japanese companies, representatives of important facilities for the Japanese community (including the Japan Desk for medical support and the International School) and cultural institutions, the delegation visited some 20 companies during the mission. These companies all have offices in Amsterdam, Amstelveen, Haarlemmermeer or Almere. Given the economic situation in both Japan and Europe, it is extremely important to nurture established relationships while also identifying new opportunities for expansion. During a visit to the Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation, a company with its European headquarters in Amsterdam, mayor Van der Laan presented a bid book on behalf of the delegation. The company will introduce a new line of aircraft, the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), to the market in 2015. The bid concerned locating the MRJ European service centre in the areas of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and Maastricht.

Amsterdam Metropolitan Area showcased

Many Japanese companies engaged in innovation are looking for business locations, for example, for head offices and research and development operations. During two business seminars held in the cities of Osaka and Tokyo, companies were informed about the Dutch business climate and the benefits of doing business in the Amsterdam Area. There was a special focus on the protection of innovation rights in the Netherlands as well as on the additional tax incentives linked to innovations by international companies that establish operations in the Netherlands. The seminars were organised in cooperation with the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency and the Bank of Tokyo UFJ (BTMU), the first Japanese company established in Amsterdam in 1963. The Japanese General Manager of the Amsterdam branch of the BTMU was also part of the delegation.

Seminars were also organised for tour operators to inform them about the upcoming festival year ‘Amsterdam 2013’ and a meeting for logistics companies was organised in collaboration with KLM, Schiphol and other service providers within the delegation.

Mayor Van der Laan: “The decision for a company to establish itself in Europe is a careful and lengthy process but during the seminars, a number of companies indicated they were specifically considering the Netherlands as the place for entering the European market. With our broadly representative delegation we were able to comprehensively present our region.”

Japanese Okura collection comes to Amsterdam

In a meeting with mayors Van der Laan and Van Zanen, Baron Okura (owner of the Okura Hotel Amsterdam and the Okura Museum of Art) made a commitment to loan out part of the collection of the Okura Museum of Art for an exhibition in Amsterdam. The entire Japan collection includes 2,500 works of art, 1,000 books and three national treasures. In the coming months, plans for the exhibition will take shape with the support of the Sieboldhuis Japan Museum in Leiden, also a delegation member. Established in 1971, the Japanese Okura Hotel Amsterdam plays an important connecting role in the Japanese community in the Amsterdam Area.

Relationship with Japan
The trade relationship between Japan and the Netherlands has existed for over 400 years and the Amsterdam Area is home to the third largest Japanese community in Europe. A book was compiled in collaboration with the Amsterdam City Archives mapping the centuries-long relationship between Japan and Amsterdam. During an alumni reception at the International School of Amsterdam in Tokyo, the mayors met with 170 former students who they believe are the next generation of ‘Amsterdam ambassadors in Japan.’

The mayors also visited Sendai, a city located in an area hit hard by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Representatives of Sendai were invited to visit the Hortifair trade show in Amsterdam to gain expertise in order to help with the redevelopment of the cities horticultural sector. Tohoku Tulip bulbs were also planted at an elementary school that was affected by the tsunami. Named after the affected area, this is a new variety of tulip developed by grower Royal Van Zanten in cooperation with the Dutch Embassy in Japan.

Mayor Van Zanen: ‘Our relationship with Japan has existed for centuries and it reflects much more than just business. The grief of the large Japanese community in Amstelveen and Amsterdam touched all of us. The importance of friendship in good and difficult times is therefore our basis for our common future.’

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