This presentation explores a relatively untouched and surprisingly hidden micro-history between Japan and Hungary, especially in the financial realm. It will show that for Japan’s international economic and financial policy, during the time of transition, Hungary was an ideal „mediator” between the former socialist bloc (including the USSR) and Japan. It also was the pinnacle for a larger market strategy in Japanese economic diplomacy for East-Central Europe. The paper will address the role of Japanese trading houses (sōgō shōsha) as organizers of foreign trade in East-Central Europe during socialist rule, and it will place special emphasis on the personal role of Okita Saburō (1914-1993) who, as an advisor, supported the idea of „exporting” the Japanese developmental model to East-Central Europe. The study of Japan's economic diplomacy towards Hungary in the 1990s illustrates that the interactions between the leading technological power Japan and the almost invisibly small Hungarian economy can be interpreted as a symbol for the broader international process of economic and fiscal globalization.
Katalin Ferber was born in Budapest. She graduated from Karl Marx University (now Corvinus University of Economics) and worked as an economic historian in the Historical Institute of the National Academy. After receiving her doctoral degree in 1988, she taught as a visiting professor in Canada and, since 1993, has been working in Japan as a comparative economic and financial historian. The author of six books, many academic papers and book chapters and more than two hundred articles in daily newspapers, she is currently an Associate Professor at Waseda University and, until March 2011, a Visiting Professor of Japanese Studies at FU Berlin. Her presentation will be based on a chapter of her recent book on the role of Japanese finance in East and Central Europe in the 1980s.