On October 23, a lecture entitled “Two Anniversaries of this Year: 1868 for Japan and 1918 for Belgium”, was held by Ambassador Hayashi at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). The Ambassador explained that amazingly, the lecture was held exactly 150 years after the first day of the change to the Meiji period. He also talked about the process of the nation-building of Japan at the time, which can be called a rare case, accomplishing modernization as a non-Western country. At the time, a special delegation that went on a mission in the West to gather knowledge also came to Belgium, which was then advancing in the Industrial Revolution, to study different fields that could serve as good precedents. These included Belgium’s industry, railways and bank system, and had a large influence on the modernization of Japan.
Furthermore, this year it has been 100 years since the end of the First World War. During the war, Ypres, Liege and Antwerp underwent the violent ravages of war while Belgium was fighting determinately. The Ambassador explained that thinking about this history, this year is meaningful for renewing our wish for peace, while he also introduced the topic of Japan’s cooperation in the reconstruction of Belgium after the First World War.
An audience of 85 people gathered for the lecture, consisting of students majoring in Japanese at the ULB, as well as other students who have an interest in Japan. They listened enthusiastically to the lecture about the common points and the friendship between Japan and Belgium from a historical point of view. After the lecture, a lively Q&A session was held, centering around the outlook on the Japan-Belgium bilateral relations.