National / Politics

Dutch king aims to deepen ties with Japan on first official trip abroad


King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands has expressed hope that his forthcoming trip to Japan will help deepen bilateral ties in coping with the shared challenges the two countries face, such as the aging of society and food security.

Meeting with Japanese media organizations Friday at his palace in the Hague, the king said he and his wife, Queen Maxima, are looking forward to their visit later this month.

At the outset of the meeting, the king offered his condolences to the victims of the recent eruption of Mount Ontake in Nagano and Gifu prefectures, expressing his shock at the tragedy.

Turning to possible fields that could help promote bilateral relations further, the king showed interest in agricultural cooperation in the Tohoku region, parts of which were devastated by the massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

He also expressed his hope that smaller firms in the two countries will step up exchanges to build on long-standing bilateral trade ties that date back nearly 400 years, when Dutch merchants were allowed to engage in trade on an artificial island known as Dejima, in Nagasaki harbor.

The king, who has been to Japan more than 15 times including his visits as crown prince, has close ties with the Imperial family. He told the journalists of his gratitude to Crown Prince Naruhito for attending his inauguration ceremony in April 2013.

The upcoming visit will be the king’s first official trip outside Europe since his coronation, which diplomatic sources said reflects the importance put on relations with Japan.

The royal couple will visit Japan from Oct. 28 through Nov. 2, with the first four days of their itinerary spent as state guests and the rest as a private visit.

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