Leiden University Office Tokyo

Leiden University (1575) is the oldest university in the Netherlands and one of the oldest in Europe. It is a founding member of the League of European Research Universities (LERU). The university has a long history of involvement with Japan, dating back to the seventeenth century, when quite a few Leiden alumni worked in, and published about Japan in the service of the Dutch East India Company. The university prides itself on having the oldest department of Japanese studies in the world, established in 1855 when Johann Joseph Hoffman, a disciple of the famous Philipp Franz von Siebold, was appointed professor in the Japanese language. The department still flourishes. Also the first Japanese to study abroad at the end of the Edo period, such as Nishi Amane and Tsuda Mamichi, went to study at Leiden University, which until today welcomes many Japanese students and researchers.

From 1975 through 2011, Leiden University conducted its academic exchange programs with Japan for students and researchers from all disciplines mainly through the Japan-Netherlands Institute (Nichi-Ran Gakkai), which also played an essential role in the study of the historical relations between Japan and the Netherlands.

After the closure of the institute, Leiden University obtained in March 2012 the understanding of Chuo City in central Tokyo and the support of the Corts Foundation, a Dutch foundation which focuses on the research, preservation, and opening up of historical sources concerning the Dutch presence in Asia, to set up a new representative office, the Leiden University Office Tokyo (LUOT), in order to maintain its relations with Japan and its many Japanese sister-universities, to continue several existing research programs, and to support the field of Asian Studies which are a priority at Leiden University. In November 2012, the office was officially opened with an international symposium.

Main activities

The Corts Foundation’s War History Series Translation Project

The invasion of the Dutch East Indies The Operations of the Navy in the Dutch East Indies and the Bay of Bengal

The translation and publication in English of several volumes from the War History Series, which concern the Japanese invasion and occupation of the former Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) 1941-1945.

The War History Series is a 102-volume military history of the Japanese involvement in the Second World War, published by the War History Office of the National Defense College of Japan between 1966 and 1980. Although the series is narrowly focused on the purely military aspects of the war — after all its main function was to serve as educational research material for the Self-Defense Forces — it gives an unparalleled insight in the campaigns of the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy. Up till now, only a few foreign researchers have made use of the series and only a few partial translations have appeared. The Corts Foundation aims to publish the first full and unabridged translation of several volumes. The first volume, published in September 2015, is volume 3, The Invasion of the Dutch East Indies. The second volume, volume 26 of the series, was published in September 2018 under the title The Operations of the Navy in the Dutch East Indies and the Bay of Bengal. A third volume with extracts from volumes 5 and 34 of the series is planned for publication in 2020.

Project team

Project director Joan Snellen van Vollenhoven (Secretary-General, the Corts Foundation)
Final Editor Dr. Willem Remmelink (researcher on East Asian and Indonesian history;
former executive director Japan-Netherlands Institute)
Advisory Board Prof. Dr. Ken’ichi Goto (Professor Emeritus, Waseda University)
Prof. Dr. Hisashi Takahashi (Professor Emeritus, Sophia University)
Prof. Dr. Ryōichi Tobe (Teikyo University)
Prof. Dr. Jirō Mizushima (Chiba University)
Dr. Petra Groen (Netherlands Institute for Military History)
Dr. Anita van Dissel (Leiden University)
Lt. Gen. (ret.) Ad Herweijer (Royal Netherlands Army) (†)
Lt. Gen. (ret.) Jan Folmer (Royal Netherlands Army)
V. Adm. (ret.) Egmond van Rijn (Royal Netherlands Navy) (†)
V. Adm. (ret.) Matthieu Borsboom (Royal Netherlands Navy)

The Corts Foundation

The Corts Foundation was established in 2003 by Kees Corts (C.W. Corts 1920-2005) as a Dutch non-profit foundation. The main aim of the Corts Foundation is the research, preservation, and opening up of historical sources concerning the Dutch presence in Asia, in particular the seventeenth and eighteenth century records of the Dutch East India Company and the history of the Japanese occupation of the former Dutch East Indies and its aftermath.

Kees Corts was born in 1920 on Sumatra (Indonesia) where his father practiced medicine. For his university education, his parents and his younger brother Philippus returned to the Netherlands in 1939. The Second World War left a deep scar on the life of Kees Corts. Both he and his younger brother had been active in the Dutch resistance movement, but unfortunately at the very end of the war, his younger brother was caught and executed by the Germans. Feeling somehow responsible for this terrible incident, Kees Corts developed a biding interest in the Second World War and an urgent need to know what had actually happened. In his own words, he established his foundation in order “to rescue the victims from the mist of history.”

This was not limited to the Netherlands, but also covered the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) with which his family felt closely connected. Eventually, his interest broadened to the whole period of the Dutch presence in Asia and, in particular, the period of the Dutch East India Company

For detailed information of the Corts Foundation see: www.cortsfoundation.org.