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150 Years - Belgium Japan

Throughout the year 2016, we celebrated 150 years of friendship between Belgium and Japan, in commemoration of the establishment of diplomatic relations. This important anniversary took place under the auspices of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan and His Majesty the King of the Belgians.

When the first Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation was signed on August 1st, 1866, Belgium was a young independent country expanding its horizons, while Japan was still ruled by the Tokugawa Shogun, and only beginning to open itself to the outside world.

The Meiji Revolution took place two years later, heralding a period of extraordinarily fast modernization for Japan. The second half of the 19th century was a time of rich exchange between the two countries, when Japan found inspiration in Belgium for some of its new institutions, and Art Nouveau fed on the craze for all things Japanese in Europe (“japonisme”).

After World War II, the relations between Japan and Belgium developed again in parallel with the impressive economic recovery of Japan in the 50s and 60s. The first Japanese factory overseas was established by Honda in Belgium in 1962, and many other firms have followed since. Numerous personal, political and economic visits have contributed to tighten the relationship between the two countries and between the Imperial and Royal families. Hundreds of Belgian and Japanese students have benefited from exchange opportunities. Japanese culture is present in the everyday life of every Belgian through manga, cuisine, decoration, etc., and no Japanese fails to identify Belgium with its quality products such as beer, chocolate, waffles… or its football team.

An abundant programme of events took place throughout the year, both in Belgium and Japan. The activities underscored the many things that the two countries have in common, strengthened the ties of friendship further, and encouraged future cultural and academic exchange. 

We would like to extend our deep gratitude and appreciation for the precious and generous support from numerous partners, sponsors and friends who made this celebratory year into a memorable success. Thank you for showing how vibrant, diverse and forward-looking Belgium-Japan relations really are.

Thank you very much!

This website is specially dedicated to the anniversary as seen from Japan.