Prof. K.G. van Wolferen

Karel van Wolferen (1941) is an influential scholar and publicist on international political and economic affairs. In 1989 he wrote a standard work on Japan, its economy and its place in the world. It is one of his many books on Japan. Karel van Wolferen believes that Japanese contemporary socio-economic history may provide valuable insights to the rest of the world when tackling certain societal issues. In his more recent work Karel Van Wolferen has shifted his focus more towards the United States and their relationship with and their influence on the rest of the world.

Karel van Wolferen is a former journalist. He left the Netherlands straight after secondary school and travelled to Japan via the Middle East, India and most of South East Asia. His articles were picked up by various media, and in 1972 he became a correspondent for a Dutch daily, a position he held for sixteen years before making a more definitive turn towards academic life.



Personal data

Name and surname

Karel G. van Wolferen

Date of Birth


Place of Birth

Rotterdam, The Netherlands


Eithne Jones (spouse)

Selected honours and distinctions

1987 annual award for best journalism in a Dutch daily



  • freelance journalist/writer, early 60's onwards
  • teacher English, Waseda University, Athenée Français(amongst others), mid 60's
  • foreign correspondent, NRC Handelsblad, 1972 to the late 80's
  • professor Comparative Political and Economic Institutions, University of Amsterdam, 1997 to 2006
  • guest speaker


Selected references

Books and publications

  • "Student revolutionaries of the Sixties (book, 1969)
  • "The Enigma of Japanese Power" (book, 1989)
  • "The False Realities of a Politicized Society" (book, 1994)
  • "Guarding the Guardians" (book, 1996)
  • "Why Can't the Japanese Love Japan?" (book, 1998)
  • "Bourgeoisie - The Missing Element in Japanese Political Culture" (book, 1999)
  • "De Ondergang van een Wereldorde" (book, vertaling 2003)
  • "Een Keerpunt in de Vaderlandse Geschiedenis" (co-author book, 2005)
  • "Americas Tragedy and the Blind Free World" (book, 2010)
  • "The Character Assassination of Ozawa Ichiro" (book, 2011)
  • "Five Traps for Japan" (book, 2012)
  • And many more

References and contributions to public debate

  • As journalist he covered the great political events in Asia during the seventies and eighties, including the Vietnam War
  • The total body of work of Van Wolferen has sold well over a million copies. His book "The Enigma to Japanese Power" stands out as an acclaimed work on Japan and has become a standard in political and economic studies on the country. It has been published in twelve languages.
  • His essays and articles have been published in a great number of renowned newspapers and magazines from around the world

This biography has been updated until August 28, 2013.