July 25, 2000


Dear Sir,



First of all, we sincerely congratulate the 400th anniversary of the Dutch relationships with Japan on this year 2000.


When East met West in the year 1600 when the Dutch merchant vessel "de Liefde" sought refuge in Usuki Bay off the coast of Bungo, Kyushu (now Ooita), it is of no coincidence that Ieyasu Tokugawa, the first Shogun, realized its value and immediately made use of "de Liefde's" cannons and firearms to clinch his watershed victory over the western daimyos at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600.  One cannot underestimate the impact of the Dutch cannon on the battle field, which may have been assisted by William Anjin Miura Adams, the navigator of "de Liefde," and one of the 24 sailors out of 110 who survived the shipwreck.


In a show of appreciation, Tokugawa granted exclusive commercial franchise to Netherlands at Hirado in 1609 and at Desima, Nagasaki in 1641, after ousting the Portuguese and the Spanish who stuck to the old tactic of mixing religion with commerce.


In the West, the Dutch bought Manhattan in the New World in 1626.  In the East Indies, the Dutch ousted the British in the battle of 1623, thus gaining control over the commerce of the East.  In Japan, the Dutch became the sole franchisee with the Tokugawa and this regime lasted more than 250 years!!!


Embracing stability of the Dutch-Japanese relations, the Tokugawa shogunate nurtured an internally focused "moral politics" which was characterized by restraint over confrontation, peace over war, seclusion over expansion, gunfire to be replaced by the symbolic sword.  It is ironic that we shall see a reversal of moral politics by the "power politics" as we enter into the Bakumatsu era.


In 1844, the Dutch King formally advised the Tycoon to prepare for the opening up of her coasts to the West.  The King appointed John Henry Donker-Curtius (1813-1879), the judge of Batavia (Jakarta) to Desima in 1852. He was assigned as the Dutch Commissioner for Japan and Plenipotentiary Extraordinaire of H.M. the King of the Netherlands.


The following year 1853, Commodore M.C. Perry of the United States fleet anchored his four blackships off Uraga in the Tokyo Bay, as previously warned by the Dutch.  The direct approach side-stepped the vested interests of the Dutch contingent, and which coincided with the nationalistic movement in the country to overthrow the old regime in favor of the newly emerging southern powers.


However, all throughout this period, the Dutch continued to play a major role in the opening and modernization of the country.  In 1855, she helped establish the first School of Navigation at Nagasaki.  Donker-Curtius took the initiative to present to the Shogun, the first naval steamer build in the Dutch shipyards to be named the Kankoumaru.  The Dutch officers arrived to teach the young navigators, which included Katsu and Enomoto, among others who will later become the key players of the Meiji Restoration.


It is noteworthy that Kanrinmaru, the Dutch steamer built in IHC's Fop Smit shipyard at Kinderdijk was delivered to the Japanese Royal Navy in September 12th, 1857.  The captain of the vessel was W.J.C. Ridder Huyssen van Kattendijk, later to become Holland's naval and foreign minister, and Enquerry to the King.


The Kanrinmaru featured 620 tonnes, 100 horse power, and was equipped with 12 cannons.  It set sail from Shinagawa on January 12th, 1860 and finally reached San Francisco on the 26th of February, a 46-day journey across the turbulent waters of the Pacific.  The captain of the ship was Kimura Setsu no Kami, the Naval Commander, and aided by Rintaro Katsu who later negotiated the bloodless transfer of the Edo Castle to the new forces.  Also on board was Yukichi Fukuzawa, the later founder of Keio University.


It is interesting to note that Commander Kimura's elder sister, Kuni, married into the Tycoon's pulse-taker, the Dutch-trained Surgeon-General,  Hoshyu Katsuragawa the Seventh, and their daughter, Mine, is the grandmother of our St. Joseph graduate, Paul Junichi Imaizumi ('50).


Another coincidence is Hans Metzger ('58) who now heads the Japan subsidiary of the IHC Holland NV, the builder of the Kanrinmaru.  Among Paul Imaizumi's classmate is Juliana Donker-Curtius, a direct descendant of J.H. Donker-Curtius.  Juliana's father is Herman Donker-Curtius ('03), one of the first three graduates of the School.


The story of Yukichi Fukuzawa, the founder of Keio University and a statesman of the Bakumatsu period is well known.  Fukuzawa lived next door to the Katsuragawa salon in Tsukiji, Tokyo, which was the center of Dutch "Rangaku" learning at that time.  Utsunomiya, the father of Japanese chemistry, was there, and so was Yanagikawa, the father of Japanese journalism.  Fukuzawa obtained the permission to travel abroad the Kanrinmaru via the auspices of Kimura's brother-in-law, the Katsuragawa.  It was a watershed experience for Fukuzawa and especially so, since the Port of Yokohama was officially opened in June, 1859 of the previous year, and the door to the West was suddenly opened.  Leaders like Fukuzawa and later on, the Iwakura Mission of 1872 flocked to the West to study the progress of civilization overseas.


Of course, amidst all this a few scars were left in the heart of samuraidom.  It is an anecdote in some circles that when Perry arrived in 1853, he brought with him two White Flags which he presented to the Shogun with a statement in the tune of "if Japan should choose to use arms to resist the opening, she shall be defeated, and the two White Flags shall be used as a sign of surrender and negotiation." Japanese historians kept this evidence in the archives, but strangely it has been completely erased from the US records.


Anyhow, the humiliation received by samuraidom was internalized for a while, and when Fukuzawa returned from the States, he brought back power politics. History will tell of the mischief it has created in China, Southeast Asia and its environs.


It comes as an irony that the proponent of samuraidom, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto took the cue and made his first strike in Pearl Harbor, only to return with four ships destroyed in contrast to the four blackships of Uraga.


Another striking coincidence is the shootdown of Yamamoto's airplane in one summer day over the southern Pacific islands by the US Air Forces, which succeeded in the decoding of the Japanese secret codes.  Bro. Aloysius Soden, teacher and principal of SJC, was recently credited by the U.S. media as one of the key players of the decoding team.  We can say that Bro. Soden contributed to the early arrival of Peace in the Pacific.


Back in Modern Japan, the past ten years of economic stagnation can be seen as a period of internal consolidation and reversion back to the Japanese moral politics.


In this regard, history is our guide in that perhaps we are waiting for the "de Liefde" (Dutch for Love) phenomena once again.


The moral politics of the next century will be those values that can balance the needs of modern day society with those of its neighbors.  The structural change that is called for is challenging.  The Japanese penchant to "save now, pay later" must be gradually reversed to ward off the state of high trade surpluses and the ensuing strong yen.  You know that this is in stark contrast to those of the United States, where the prevailing life style is "pay now, save later."  Here the consequences are huge trade deficits and a weak dollar.


Japan has been struggling with this dichotomy for years now.  The sharp contrast between the East and the West must soon be brought to perspective.  The answer may be somewhere in the very middle.  Our sense tells us that perhaps we must revisit the roots of "de Liefde."  Holland as a nation of limited resources similar to Japan sought fortunes across its borders.  Its capital poured into the United States market, for one, already exceeds that of Japan.  Today, the Dutch penetration into the world markets are far more significant that the Japanese, who on the contrary are now on the defensive in many of its overseas markets.


International Education to the Forefront


Against the backdrop of the general decline in the economic vigour of Japan, we are proposing to establish a new form of a truly International School in Yokohama.  As former students of St. Joseph College International School of 85 Bluff, Yokohama, we have been notified that one school building which was part of our alma mater and which belongs to the Catholic order may be subject to a purchase by the City of Yokohama.


This premise is called the Berrick Hall (625 tsubos=2,062 m3) situated on 72 Bluff adjacent to Yamate street.  The City of Yokohama has shown an interest in its cultural value and which is considered as the largest "youkan" (Western-style building) on the Bluff.  At 1.5 million yen per tsubo, the price tab to the City alone is on the high side of their budget.  Consequently, the alumni group has been on the search for a suitable sponsor of the International School initiative.


The Dutch connection, we have been exploring, is a natural extension of the alumni and friends of SJC.  Moreover, we are aware that the Dutch represent herself the epitome of the International Society.


It is for this reason that we wish to be exploring with you the joint idea of an International Education Center.  The school shall be taught in English, but does not exclude vigorous training in the European and the Asian languages.  It shall be opened to high school and above levels.  Training in English shall be reinforced by practical education in the computer sciences.  Alumni who are currently professors of MIT and other schools of higher learning shall be able to return to the campus to teach their respective fields of expertise.  These areas include architecture and arts, journalism and finance, as well as commerce.


A special seminar on Erasmus and Spinoza by the Nobel Prize winner (Our Charles Pedersen ('22) was a Nobel Prize winner of chemistry in 1987, the only winner without a PhD, and his work on crown ethers were conducted during his years 55 to 65 years old, a true late bloomer in the tradition of SJC!!!)


We have an ideal to establish a strong curriculum in Asian studies around the Marine Economy concept.  Cultural interaction with our neighbors shall be pursued in an unique industrial/academic environment based on a strong commitment to International Education.


Sincerely yours,


Jean Rigod ('64)

Chiaki Homma ('66)

Joji Ozawa (Mayes) ('64)


Members of SJC Alumni