1860-1868 (Ansei 7-Meiji 1)
After Jan Hendrik Donker Curtius had concluded a trade treaty with Japan, an intermediary period started. The lack of a solid Japan policy, resulted in the Netherlands making mostly ad hoc solutions. The Dutch government decided not to appoint a political envoy in Japan and in February 1860 (Ansei 7) replaced Donker Curtius with the colonial official J.K. de Wit, who was appointed Consul-General.
This was a confusing time. The consular system in Japan was not clearly defined, while the Netherlands hoped to retain a bit of the exceptional relationship of the past. However, as Japan was building new diplomatic contacts with other countries and the Dutch government showed little to no interest in Japan, it became increasingly clear that this was impossible. The influence of countries like Great Britain, the United States and France soon overshadowed that of the Netherlands.
Although Yokohama was quickly overtaking Nagasaki’s importance as a trading port, and other countries located their consulates and legations in Kanagawa, Yokohama and Edo (current Tokyo), the Dutch Consulate General remained on Dejima through 1863 (Bunkyu 3), when de Wit’s successor Dirk de Graeff van Polsbroek transferred it to Yokohama.
De Graeff van Polsbroek was appointed Political Agent and Consul-General in 1863, and became Minister Resident in 1868 (Meiji 1), which started a new period in the diplomatic relationship between Japan and the Netherlands.
|1860-1863||Jan Karel de Wit|
|1863-1868||Dirk de Graeff van Polsbroek|
1868-1941 (Meiji 1-Showa 16)
After the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate, the Meiji Restoration started in 1868. This gave birth to a massive political and social transformation in Japan.
|1868–1870||Dirk de Graeff van Polsbroek|
|1870–1872||Frederik Philip van der Hoeven|
|1872–1878 (This source says 1873-)||Wilhelm Ferdinand Heinrich von Weckerlin|
|1879-1880||Edmond Willem Ferdinand Wttewaall van Stoetwegen|
|1881–1889||Joannes Jacobus van der Pot|
|1890–1895||Count Dmitri Louis van Bylandt|
|1896–1901||Hannibal Casimir Johannes Testa|
|1901–1905||Baron Arthur Martin Désiré Sweerts de Landas Wyborgh|
|1908–1913||Jan Herman van Roijen|
|1914–1918||Baron Dirk van Asbeck|
|1919–1923||Andries Cornelis Dirk de Graeff|
|1923–1941||Jean Charles Pabst|
Since 1946 (Showa 21)
Before WWII, diplomatic ranks expressed the world’s hierarchy of nations. Only great powers, close allies, and related monarchies sent ambassadors to each other. “Lesser nations” had legations and envoys.
This system was deeply ingrained. When Dutch diplomats in the 1930s suggested to upgrade the Dutch diplomatic mission in Japan to an embassy, the British king objected. There were too many ambassadors already, he insisted.
After the end of WWII in 1945 (Showa 20), this all changed. The United Nations decided that all sovereign states were of equal rank. Over the following decades, legations and envoys all over the world were slowly turned into embassies and ambassadors.
After three and a half centuries of bilateral relations between the two countries, the Dutch diplomatic mission in the Japanese capital finally became an embassy in 1952 (Showa 27). Petrus Ephrem Teppema became the first Dutch ambassador in Japan.1
|1951–1954||Petrus Ephrem Teppema|
|1960–1964||Nicolaas Arie Johannes de Voogd|
|1965–1967||Robert Hans van Gulik|
|1969–1971||Johan Quirijn Bas Backer|
|1971–1975||Theodore Paul Bergsma|
|1975–1978||Carl Dietrich Barkman|
|1983–1986||Louis Joachim Goedhart|
|1986–1992||Herman Christiaan Posthumus Meyjes|
|1992–1995||Roland van den Berg|
|1995–2001||Frans Paul Robert van Nouhuys|
|2001–2005||Egbert Frederik Jacobs|
|2005–2008||Alphons Clemens Maria Hamer|
|2008–2012||Philip de Heer|
|2012–2015||Radinck Jan van Vollenhoven|
|2019–2023||Peter van der Vliet|
|2023–||Marten Van den Berg|
1 Poelgeest, L. van (1999). Japanse besognes. Nederland en Japan 1945-1975. Sdu Uitgevers, 130.
Reference for Citations
Duits, Kjeld (). Dutch Diplomats in Japan since 1860, From Dejima to Tokyo. Retrieved on December 7, 2023 (GMT) from https://www.dejima-tokyo.com/articles/20/dutch-diplomats-in-japan-since-1860-ansei-7