Although Karel is a professor at the University of Amsterdam, he spends a great deal of time in Japan, writing for various publications, debating Japanese politicians and working very hard to try to help Japan. He had read some things that I had written and I was happy to have Karel say I was a "kindred spirit."
We discussed the history of postwar Japan and how Japan had missed an opportunity to build a more functional democracy because of the focus on fighting communism driven in large part by the American occupation. The US Occupation helped fund the conservative "Liberal Democratic Party" which co-opted or crushed most of the so-called "left-wing" liberal groups that were trying to emerge. A particularly unfortunate victim of this effort was the The Japan Teachers Union. Many teachers in postwar Japan felt a great deal of guilt for having taught children Imperialist warmongering based on the right-wing central government produced texts of the time. There was a strong desire among teachers to turn this guilt into something constructive. The Teachers Union confronted the LDP and the Ministry of Education and pushed for decentralization of education and fought against textbook censorship. The conservatives attacked them and marginalized them, effectively crushing the effort. In light of the recent discussion on Japanese historical revisionism and the festering right-wing, it is really a pity that this movement was crushed since it could have become a positive movement to help face the facts of Japanese Imperialist history. (The union still exists, but is taking a much more moderate stance on reform.)
We talked about the Internet and Wikipedia and how facts and history are being collectively created online. One interesting problem that he has is that many people spell his name as "von Wolferen" instead of "van Wolferen". Even editors of major newspapers consistently "correct" the spelling and change it to "von". It has gotten so bad that there are more results for the wrong spelling than the correct one on Google. It's funny to imagine people who are so sure of their spelling that they would change the spelling of someone's name without checking.
We promised to keep in touch and try to collaborate in the future.