Author of the best-selling book The Sun Also Sets: The Limits to Japan’s Economic Power (1989), as well as 20:21 Vision: Twentieth-Century Lessons for the Twenty-First Century (2003), Japanophobia: The Myth of the Invincible Japanese (1993) and Rivals: How the Power Struggle Between China, India and Japan Will Shape our Next Decade (2008). A new edition of his most recent book “The Fate of the West”, The Battle to Save the World’s Most Successful Political Idea was published in April 2018.
In April 2016 the Government of Japan awarded him – “The Order of the Rising Sun Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon” which was bestowed upon him by Ambassador Koji Tsuruoka
at the Embassy of Japan who delivered this Speech at the Ceremony.
Bill writes columns on current affairs for The Financial Times in London, for La Stampa in Italy, for Nikkei Business in Japan and for Project Syndicate worldwide.
This year, he has been working on a book about how women will shape the future of Japan, and next plans a history of post-war Japan. A visiting professor at Shujitsu University in Okayama, Japan, and a member of Tokyo University’s Global Advisory Board, he is also chairman of the Japan Society in the UK, a trustee of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and a regular contributor to La Stampa, Nikkei Business, Mainichi Shimbun and Project Syndicate. Now resident in Ireland, he is shortly to join the board of the Trinity Long Room Hub for the Arts and Humanities. From January 2019 he will also Chair International Institute for Strategic Studies, London and Japan Society of the UK.
When faced with global instability and economic uncertainty, it is tempting for states to react by closing borders, hoarding wealth and solidifying power. We have seen it at various times in Japan, France and Italy and now it is infecting all of Europe and America, as the vote for Brexit in the UK has vividly shown. This insularity, together with increased inequality of income and wealth threatens the future role of the West as a font of stability, prosperity and security. Part of the problem is that the principles of liberal democracy upon which the success of the West has been built have been suborned, with special interest groups such as bankers accruing too much power and too great a share of the economic cake.
So how is this threat to be countered? States such as Sweden in the 1990s, California at different times or Britain under Thatcher all halted stagnation by clearing away the powers of interest groups and restoring their societies’ ability to evolve. To survive, the West needs to be porous, open and flexible. From reinventing welfare systems to redefining the working age, from reimagining education to embracing automation, Emmott lays out the changes the West must make to revive itself in the moment and avoid a deathly rigid future.
Girlfriend in a Coma
A documentary feature film co-written and narrated by Emmott, titled “Girlfriend in a Coma“, which depicts Italy in a 20-year-long crisis was made during 2012 under the direction and co-authorship of Annalisa Piras and produced by Springshot Productions in 2012. It was launched in 2012 and broadcast on BBC Four, Sky Italia and La7, TV channels early in 2013, and subsequently on other channels worldwide as well as more than 46 independently organised public screenings in Italy and abroad. During the six months following its release, the film was watched by more than one and a half million viewers.
The Great European Disaster Movie
A further film by Piras and Emmott, The Great European Disaster Movie, was co-produced by BBC4 and Arte, and was transmitted in Britain, France, Germany and many other European countries in the spring of 2015. It has now been seen by 2,500,000 people in 12 countries and been translated into 10 languages. In October 2015 Emmott and Piras made the film freely available for public screenings and debates about the future of the EU as the centrepiece of their foundation’s “Wake Up Europe!” initiative. In May 2016, The Great European Disaster Movie was awarded Germany’s prestigious CIVIS Media Prize in the category TV-Information.
The Wake Up foundation
Emmott (as chairman) and Piras (as director) set up the Wake Up Foundation to use film, text and data for public education and school courses about the decline of Western countries and what could be done to restore the strengths of liberal democracy in the face of pressures such as demography, technological innovation, globalisation, climate change and the long aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008–10. The first projects of the foundation were a “Wake Up Europe!” initiative in October 2015 using Piras’s documentary, The Great European Disaster Movie, and a new statistical indicator of the long-term health of western societies, to be called “the Wake Up 2050 Index”.