[2022-12-15] Award Ceremony NL Japan Relations Essay Contest 2022

This summer, students from the Netherlands were welcomed to participate in a challenging essay contest, organized by Dujat and VU Amsterdam, with the theme: Energy transition in the Netherlands and Japan: how to benefit from each other through cooperation.

The great quality of the submitted essays resulted in an exciting judging procedure, and a tough decision for our jury. On Thursday 15 December the award ceremony took place, where after a word of welcome by Prof. dr. Jeroen Geurts, Rector Magnificus of VU Amsterdam, and Mr. Eelco Ouwerkerk, Board Member of Dujat, the following winners were announced by Mr. Jan van Zanen, Mayor of The Hague and Chairman of the jury.

1st Place: “A Hydrogen bond: Forging trade opportunities between the Netherlands and Japan” by Annabel Melhuish – VU Amsterdam, Masters of Environment and Resource Management – Sustainable Energy

Award: Trip to Japan


A very well-constructed and persuasive essay reflecting serious research and creative thinking on a difficult complex subject. The essay is also praised for its recognition of historical background and both countries’ interests.

With the detailed essay, Ms. Melhuish goes into great depth regarding the theme. The topic draws on the strengths of both countries in relation to energy and supported this argumentation with references and facts. There is also a clear logic running through the structure of the text, and effective use of language to support the argumentation. Overall an outstanding essay and although it was a really close call with number 2, Ms. Melhuish’ essay won over just slightly more of the jury members and is therefore our first prize winner

2nd Place: “Reversed rangaku: Dutch-Japanese cooperation in hydrogen economy” by Matthijs Hoek – VU Amsterdam, Mathematics & Physics

Award: Yamazato Dinner Voucher for 2p


Well-focused and structured essay with an original concept: Rangaku, which was the recurring theme of the text and gave a pleasing symmetry to the structure, with the opening and closing paragraphs centering around the concept. The way this concept highlighted the history between Japan and the Netherlands and the relevant strengths of each in the domain of energy was a strength of the essay.

The jury praises Mr. Hoek for the recognition of the historical background as well as the mention of mutual cooperation between Japan and the Netherlands. Structurally the essay is well-written with use of good language and relevant references and facts, but above all, it offers concrete proposals and a clear rational analysis on how the mutual interest of both countries could be served.

3rd Place: Spurring the green revolution: How cooperation between Dutch and Japanese smart cities can further economic development, enhance societal life, and help reach climate goals

Award: TIME & STYLE Gift Set (Worth €150,-)


The jury appreciates Ms. Beckman Lapré’s thorough research and background knowledge that was featured in this strongly written essay, with use of excellent academic language and information sources. The essay was based on existing business activities and the only submission that focused on smart cities as a topic, which was well supported by relevant facts and statistics.

What stood out about this essay was the way it effectively connected strengths of the Netherlands, such as smart city innovation, with strengths of Japan, such as hydrogen research and technology. This connection was outlined in great detail and expressed in a persuasive and engaging style, with excellent use of language.

The winners were congratulated by H.E. Mr. Horinouchi, Ambassador of Japan in the Netherlands, who expressed his thoughts about the winners and the competition in a beautiful speech, after which dr. Andrea Bandelli, Head of International Relations at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, concluded the event and opened the networking reception. At the reception we were joined by Dujat members and VU relations.

We would like to express our thanks to all who joined the event, to our respected jury members for their efforts, and to the students who accepted the challenge and participated in the contest.


More about the essay contest: 

This essay contest was a cooperation between Dujat and VU Amsterdam, organized in an effort to strengthen the relations of The Netherlands with Japan. Students are the future of generations and with this essay contest, we would like to inspire them to explore the long-lasting relationship between Japan and The Netherlands.

Members of the Jury:

  • H.E. Mr. Hidehisa Horinouchi – Ambassador of Japan to the Netherlands
  • Mr. Jan van Zanen – Mayor of The Hague
  • Prof. Jeroen Geurts – Rector Magnificus, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Mr. Luc Houben – Chairman, Dujat
  • Mr. Jeroen Bokhoven – Executive Director at NFIA Japan
  • Mr. Hans Kuijpers – Director Investment Projects & Investor Climate of NFIA (Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency)
  • Ms. Fumiko Inoue – Board member and Co-Chairman at Rotterdam Japan Club
  • Mr. Jens Branum – Lecturer, Faculty of Humanities, Language at VU Amsterdam
  • Mrs. Christa de Kemp – Managing Director at Dujat