The Dutch Embassy

In the afternoon of the first excursion day, we went to the Dutch Embassy. In our expectations, the embassy is a place where we can learn a lot, since they have a lot of Dutch people with experience about Dutch companies in Japan and Japanese companies in The Netherlands. This expectations turned out true immediately when we met Luite Douma, the man who gave the presentation at the embassy. He works at the trade department of the embassy, currently mainly to help the Dutch game industry expand to Japan.

Luite started his presentation with the history of the tradings between Japan and The Netherlands. Those first tradings were done on Deshima Island, close to Nagasaki. Because of this history, the current embassy building has the same shape as Deshima Island. Luite mentioned an important present-day task of the Dutch embassy: they try to move the European headquarter of Panasonic to The Netherlands. Panasonic has this European headquarter in England now, but they are looking for a new location because of the Brexit. Japan is the third economy of the world, and the bilateral trade between Japan and the Netherlands is 5 billion euros. There are 450 Japanese companies with settlements in The Netherlands, and 200 Dutch companies with settlements in Japan.

After explaining the trading numbers, Luite started to explain the difficulties for Dutch companies in Japan. He used the research from Geert Hofstede, who has researched that masculinity is a lot higher in Japan, and Japanese avoid risk a lot more than Dutch people. Nevertheless, Dutch people are individualistic than Japanese people. Those conclusions were described in the PESTLE macro study of the “Join Japan” study tour as well, so this was a good confirmation from an experienced person. Luite mentioned the three most important do’s on a business meeting in Japan: be on time, pay attention to the hierarchy order and follow the Japanese rituals about business cards. An example: when you receive business cards from multiple Japanese people at a meeting, you have to make a stack on a table where you have to order them in the right hierarchical order. Also, always make sure that the most important people is as far as possible away from the door of the room. The most important don’ts in Japan: do not be sleepy at a meeting, do not be too direct (which is hard for Dutch people), and do not put pink your chopsticks in your food.

Luite continued his presentation by explaining a present-day civil engineering task: to help the Japanese people with offshore wind energy knowledge from Dutch companies. The Japanese government is looking for new energy resources, so they changed the law to allow offshore wind energy areas. This gives a lot of opportunities for Dutch companies. Luite answered some questions regarding the micro study as well. Mainly about cultural aspects, but also about the presence of Dutch construction firms in Japan.

After the cultural presentation, Luite gave another presentation about his main work field: the game industry. Dutch companies can earn a lot of money in Japan by selling games, because Japanese gamers spend the most money of the world ($296 per year) to games. The Japanese game industry is a lot easier to reach for the Dutch than for civil engineering, because less cultural aspects are involved. You just have to make a game and you can directly sell it in another country. However, there are challenges for the game industry as well. For example, you have to make sure that you add Japanese things like animate characters, because otherwise it may be that a game will not sell in Japan.