When the world ushers in the last year of the millennium on Jan. 1, the Netherlands and Japan will be celebrating another historic landmark. 2000 marks 400 years since the Dutch trading ship Liefde landed on the shores of Oita Prefecture. To mark the occasion, more than 400 events will be held in Japan throughout the year. “We’re very proud that the year 2000 in Japan will also be Holland Year,” said Ambassador Robert van Nouhuys at a press briefing Friday at the Dutch Embassy in Tokyo. “We hope that the celebrations will not only be a retrospective … but also future-oriented.” A wide range ofeconomic, cultural, scientific and sports events have been scheduled to kick off on New Year’s Day, including an exhibition of 74 paintings by Vincent van Gough from the Kroller-Muller Museum in the Netherlands. Other events include a symposium to discuss the significance of the EU to Japan; a traditional Dutch skating marathon covering more than 200 km in Hokkaido; an exhibition commemorating the 100th anniversary of Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher’s birth; and concerts performed by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. One highlight singled out by Van Nouhuys is a contemporary re-enactment of the “Edo Sanpu,” a journey traditionally made by the head of the Dutch trading post from Dejima Island in Nagasaki Harbor to Edo — present-day Tokyo. The walk was made annually, and after 1790 quadrennially, by Dutch representatives to pay respects to the shogun and to have their trading rights reconfirmed. Van Nouhuys was accompanied at the press briefing by Taro Nakayama, a member of the Lower House and head of the anniversary project committee; Oita Prefecture Gov. Morihiko Hiramatsu; and Nagasaki Prefecture Vice Gov. Eiji Sawai. Holland was one of only a few countries with which Japan, under the isolationist policy of the Tokugawa Shogunate, opted to have trade exchanges.

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