Robert Whiting is the author of several successful books on contemporary Japanese culture. Tokyo Underworld, The Meaning of Ichiro, The Chrysanthemum and the Bat and the best-selling You Gotta Have Wa (A Book of the Month Club selection, a Casey Award finalist and a Pulitzer Prize candidate), which has sold 150,000 copies in the United States and is in its 25th printing. It has been required reading in the Japanese Studies departments of many American universities, as well as the Japan Desk in the U.S. State Department. He has written for Sports Illustrated, Time, the Smithsonian, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Nikkei Asia Review and the Japan Times as well as for several Japanese publications, including Shukan Asahi, Bungei Shunju, Daily Sports. He has published 22 books in Japanese. He also authored a manga series for Kodansha that sold 750,000 copies in graphic novel form. Slugging It Out In an autobiography co-authored with former Tokyo Giants player Warren Cromartie was the recipient of a New York Public Library award for educational merit. Published in Japanese it sold 250,000 copies. Tokyo Underworld sold 300,000 hardcover copies in Japanese translation, when it was published by Kadokawa, rising to the #1 spot on many lists in Tokyo. Translations of C&B Wa and MOI also hit the best-seller lists in Japan. At present, he writes a weekly column for the Yukan Fuji that is now in its 13th year. He has lived in Japan on and off for the past 50 years and is a graduate of Sophia University. Tokyo Underworld , in its 12th American printing, is currently under option to Paramount Studios and Whiting is a producer of a planned series based on the book.
He has served for the past four years on the Board of Directors at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, where he has been a member since 1982, serving as Vice-President, Treasurer and Chairman of the Food and Beverage Committee. He has delivered speeches on Japan and Japanese culture at Wharton, Stanford, Temple, Occidental, the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, CLSA, Tokyo Club, the FCCJ and the Japan Society of New York, among others. He has appeared in numerous documentaries about Japan and on such shows as CNN’s Larry King Live, the PBS Macneil-Lehrer News Hour, Nightline, ESPN’s Sports Central, HBO’s RealSports and All Things Considered. His five part series on the 1964 Olympics published in the Japan Times in 2014 has received global acclaim. In 2018-2019 he was a consultant to the Amazon Studios production The Man In the High Castle, Season 4. He was a regular on Asahi TV’s hit show News Station in the early 1990’s. On July 19, 2015, Whiting launched his own weekly podcast entitled “Robert Whiting’s Japan” (https://soundcloud.com/robert-whitings-japan). It is available on SoundCloud and via iTunes.
Whiting was born in New Jersey, raised in California and first came to Japan with U.S. military intelligence in 1962, where he worked for the National Security Agency and the CIA in the U-2 program. He graduated from Tokyo’s Sophia University in 1969 with a degree in Japanese politics and worked for Encyclopaedia Britannica Japan, editorial, under Frank Gibney until 1972, when he moved to New York City and wrote his first book, C&B
He is married to Machiko Kondo, a retired officer for the UNCHR who achieved the Ambassador level rank of Representative. In her 25 year career, she was posted in Geneva, Mogadishu, Karachi, Dhaka and Stockholm, places where Whiting did much of his writing. She now serves on the Tokyo-based Board of Directors of the Asian Ladies Friendship Society.He and his wife maintain a residence in Tokyo and a second residence on the Central Coast of California.