Japan specialist, author and commentator on global economy
Karel van Wolferen – award winning writer, with over 40 years experience in Japan and East Asia, he is an engaging and dynamic speaker, and experienced moderator, guaranteed to stir an audience with his unique analyses and thought-provoking insights into the various possible future directions of the global political economy.
Karel van Wolferen was born in Rotterdam in 1941. The next momentous event in his life was to leave the Netherlands in 1960 with only a hundred dollars and eighty German marks to spend two years living in and travelling through Turkey, the Middle East, India, South East Asia and the Philippines. After years of freelance writing and photography, he was commissioned to do a study on student radicalism in the West, he distilled the results in “Student Revolutionaries of the Sixties” in 1969, reviewed by the International Herald Tribune as “the best introduction to the subject”.
In 1972 he joined the Dutch daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad as full-time correspondent for East Asia. He covered major events in Japan, India, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and South Korea. He witnessed and wrote extensively on the Vietnam War, the fall of Saigon, the immediate aftermath of Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination, student uprisings in Korea, the People’s Power ouster of Marcos and many lesser known historical moments in Asia. He was awarded the annual Netherlands Prize for Journalism for his reporting on the Philippines.
He has written extensively about the Japanese political economy, and its conceptual challenges to orthodox economic thought. And is perhaps best known as the author of the classic ‘The Enigma of Japanese Power’.
Translated into twelve languages, is generally considered to provide the most elaborate intellectual support of what has been called the ‘Revisionist’ view of Japan, which departs fundamentally from the standard American analysis of Japanese politics. His analysis is well-known and appreciated among the most prominent reformist politicians of Japan.
In recent years he has written extensively on the changed role of the United States in world affairs, and what that may mean for Europe and Asia.
His articles and essays have appeared in many publications, such as The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, The National Interest, The New Republic, The Washington Post, Le Monde, The Los Angeles Times, Die Zeit (Germany), Chuo Koron, Bungei Shunju, Gazetta Slovo (Russia) and numerous other publications.
He has gained a large Japanese readership with some sixteen books (with a total of well over a million copies sold), on political, economic, and historical issues relating to Japan as well as on problems of political change and global compatibility among economic systems.
Karel van Wolferen is emeritus University Professor for Comparative Political and Economic Institutions at the University of Amsterdam.
An engaging and dynamic speaker, he clears a way through much conceptual fog generated by controversies of the day, and is guaranteed to stir an audience with his unique analyses and thought-provoking insights into the various possible futures of Capitalism.
He is a thought-provoking speaker, suited for board briefings, keynote speeches and panel discussions and is also a perceptive and highly accomplished facilitator of executive level meetings.
Some recent topics include:
- Financial crises and economic reality
- What the Minshuto leadership can mean for Japan economically and in terms of foreign policy
- Convergence? Insights into comparative development of government-corporate relations in US and Japan
- What Role for Europe in the New World Order?
- The Misuse of the ‘Japan example’ following the credit crunch
- The Conceptual Challenges of the World’s Second Largest Economy