I wasn't aware that there is so much in common between Netherlands and Japan. I was amazed to find many similarities when I visited Leiden, Netherlands for a summer a couple of years ago.
I think one of the major factors that makes these two countries similar is population density. Netherlands - 395/km², Japan - 337/km² . Pretty close. Or actually, I was surprised to find that Netherlands is denser than Japan which is infamously packed with people.
Netherlands is a very small country with very dense population. However, Dutch people use land and resources very efficiently. They rank third worldwide in value of agricultural exports, behind the United States and France! How could they manage to do this when the land available for agriculture is very limited? Netherlands is also dubbed as one of the greenest countries in Europe (or in the world).
Japan is also very small and dense. Although it is sluggish in environmental policy, it is advanced in energy efficiency technology and process efficiency. Prius and Kaizen are some of those examples.
Photo above is a market in Netherlands, below Japan. Similarly dense! People are just filling up the small space like this everywhere.
I can't stop feeling that this is where people start to internalize the concept of "efficiency" as a second nature.