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With next year marking the 150th anniversary of Japan-Germany diplomatic relations, the German Embassy is looking to strengthen cultural ties.

“During the 150 years, we did not just have economic ties, but we collaborated in various fields,” Ambassador Volker Stanzel said at a news conference in Minato Ward, Tokyo.

He said cultural exchanges at the citizen level will be especially important during the anniversary year.

Official diplomatic relations began in 1861 when Japan signed a commercial treaty with Prussia, but the first encounters date back to the 17th century, when German scholars came to Japan as members of the Dutch East India Co.

One of the most notable was Philipp von Siebold, a physician who took various Japanese products back to the Netherlands, including maps, a monkey and a dog.

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