Dr. Bill Totten is a naturalized Japanese citizen originally born (1941) in California and educated at USC. He became a Japanese national in September of 2006, at the age of 65. After school, he starting worked at North American Rockwell as a systems developer in 1963, which was a contractor for the NASA space program Apollo — earning his Ph.D in economics while working there.
He first came to Japan in 1969, connected to IBM mainframe software. In 1972, he founded the Japanese independent software B2B distribution company K.K. Ashisuto (Assist, Inc.) which has over 800 employees and has been running for more than 30 years. While usually seen in a business suit and bow tie, he says he rather go to work in a kimono (his employees complained, so he stopped). In interviews, he has called himself a Japanese nationalist — yet he doesn't belong to any political party — and like public institutions in Japan, he has been displaying the Japanese flag on holidays on his large home next the Kamogawa river in Kyoto. He is a nationalist, but he is not a hawk; he believes strongly in the "Peace Constitution" of Japan and his opinions on the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty are strongly in favor the populist Japanese opinion.
He is a critic and authored or contributed to almost 30 books, many of them analysis of Japanese business practices vs American and other western systems and shareholder capitalism. In addition to a lot of public speaking, he also has written a weekly column (in Japanese) on economics and politics as well as being a commentator of TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System) television programs.
In the beginning of the 90s, when trade friction between Japan and United States was near its peak after the bubble (this was during the time of books such as The Enigma of Japanese Power and the novel/movie Rising Sun as well as the Japan-taking-over-the-world pop meme in things such as Back to the Future), Bill Totten published his first high profile book, "Nihon wa waruku nai" ("Japan is not bad."). Since then, he wrote many books concerning American-Japanese economic relations. In many of his books, he had positions that were often critical of the U.S. position on matters. It was this as well as the belief that he was placed on a blacklist that served as factors leading to him to relinquishing his American citizenship for Japanese citizenship.
In recent years, Dr. Totten has been involving himself with various agricultural projects