Every year, PostNL issues a set of stamps entitled "The Netherlands and Beyond". This year's stamp set spotlights and celebrates Japan, a country with which the Netherlands has enjoyed close ties for many centuries. Starting out as trading partners, the two countries have seen their relationship flourish over the years into a rich exchange of knowledge and culture, and it is this exchange that has informed and inspired the new The Netherlands and Beyond: Japan stamp.
Annerie Lekkerkerker drew attention to the stamp's symbolism: "The new Netherlands and Beyond: Japan stamp invites us to consider the many ways in which our relationship with Japan has enriched us in terms of knowledge, culture and trade."
Each of the central subjects is embodied in two different stamps. The designers, Hairco Beukers and Marga Scholma of the Haarlem-based design company Beukers Scholma, exemplified the subject of knowledge by depicting the portraits of Philipp Franz Von Siebold (1796-1866) and the Japanese-born Netherlands scholar Ōtsuki Gentaku (1757-1827).
The cultural stamps depict two paintings which clearly reveal Japanese influences. The stamps commemorating trade relations illustrate the unique role the Netherlands has played in Japan ever since the Japanese arrival of the Dutch ship "De Liefde" in 1600. Each stamp is framed by an origami model (origami being the renowned traditional Japanese art of paper folding).