All posts by sarah

TOKYO VICE Reviewed In Japanese — Bloombergが東京ヴァイス (東京の性悪・米国人事件記者の警察回り体験記)を日本語で書評

Rocky Swift, a journalist at Bloomberg Tokyo, has posted a review of Tokyo Vice in both Japanese and English:

【書評】米国人元新聞記者がえぐり出す日本の闇社会

元読売新聞記者のジェイク・アデルスタイン氏の近著「トーキョー・バイス」は、居直ったヤクザから始末するぞと静かな脅しを掛かけられた著者が、たばこの煙をもくもくと上げながら取材戦略を練るシーンで始まる。

同書はアデルスタイン氏が警視庁記者クラブメンバーで唯一の米国人記者として連続殺人事件などを追いかけた12年間の取材の追想録で、ヤクザの中でも特に暴力的な勢力をかぎまわって窮地に陥るに至った経緯が描かれている。

「トーキョー・バイス」 に収められたのは、後藤忠正氏という病んだヤクザのボスと手下の3人がどうやって米当局のお膳立てで米国での肝臓移植手術にこぎつけたかを探ったアデルス タイン氏の調査報道の記録。今回の出版は結果的に、アデルスタイン氏の知名度を高め殺害を難しくしたため、この本は著者の救い主とも言える。

アデルスタイン氏は「ヤクザをムカつかせるようになる」前は上智大学の学生だった。ミズーリ州生まれの同氏はテレビ局や球団なども持つ日本の大手メディアの読売新聞の入社試験を気まぐれで受けたという。

Continue reading TOKYO VICE Reviewed In Japanese — Bloombergが東京ヴァイス (東京の性悪・米国人事件記者の警察回り体験記)を日本語で書評

"Gods", Demons, and Teenage Girls: New Web sites facilitate exploitation of runaways and promote human trafficking in Japan

Polaris Project site for women at risk

The Japan Times featured an excellent article last week about the latest trend of iede (家出) web sites where young girls who have run away from home look for kami (神 – god) or men who will take them temporarily off the streets in trade for sex or other favors. Some of the girls are aged 13 or younger, and use the sites to not only find protection, but also money.

Observers say such sites have emerged because the operators and male users want to dodge new laws on “deaikei,” or “encounter sites” (where members of the opposite sex can meet), that ban people under 18 from using them, diminishing the chance they will attract underage girls.

“If you regulate one type of Web site, users will go to another,” said Atsufumi Suzuki, an expert on Internet activity. Runaway sites first emerged about five years ago, he said.

With online encounter sites flourishing as a hotbed for sex with minor girls seeking pocket money, a law was introduced in 2003 that bans under-18 users and, since last year, requires site operators to register with authorities and confirm the identity of their users.

Read the full article here: ‘Runaway sites’ latest Net-based exploitation of young girls

We asked Shihoko Fujiwara of Polaris Project for her thoughts on the issue, and she had this to say:

Polaris Project Japan has known for sometime that SNS sites are sometimes used by criminals to target victims for commercial sexual exploitation, including trafficking, and we’ve known that runaway underage girls are especially vulnerable to sexual exploitation.

最近はコミュニケーションが希薄で、彼氏や援交相手を見つけるのもネットです。見えない相手に自分の切実な相談をするほど孤立していて、自分が侵されている権利を友達にも先生にも話せないのでネット上の知らない人に話すという逆転した状況があります。そういう現実の中では、彼女たちが使う言葉でQ&Aをつくってネットに流すのが効果的だと思い、女の子向けの携帯サイトもつくっています。

(Recently, the Internet had become the place for girls to find boyfriends and enjo kosai (compensated dating/teen prostitution) partners. These girls are so alone that they have to find solstice in someone they can’t even see. They talk about their situation to strangers on the Internet because they feel they can’t tell friends or teachers. Working with those facts, we think making a Q&A on the Net using these girls’ own words would be most effective, and created own mobile site for runaways.)

This article confirms that where these two meet — the “iede saito” — is most dangerous for at-risk girls.  This is one of the reasons we launched our on-line SOS site for teen-age girls and young women (www.POL214.com).  The internet is a wonderful tool for connecting people, but it can also pose risk to those who are already vulnerable. Polaris Project Japan is committed to take the fight against sex trafficking to what is now ground-zero for traffickers — the internet — to help women fight back.

Jake Adelstein, an editor of this site and a board member of Polaris Project Japan, also had this to say:

Japan doesn’t have an effective support system for teenage girls or boys that run away from home.  There are some shelters but in general the response of the police or authorities upon finding runaway children is to return them to the same abusive homes they fled from in the first place.  Japan’s laudatory enforcement of anti-human trafficking laws has made it more difficult for traffickers to exploit foreign women and it seems to be the case that they are now setting their sites on Japan’s rootless teenagers, both boys and girls, as the new chattel for sexual slavery and exploitation. The business model of human traffickers relies on paying the sex workers/sex slaves as little as possible or nothing, and they have become very adept at recruiting young exploitable girls over the web.  They (the traffickers) extend what appears to be a helping hand and then get a death grip on the girls and put them to work–as prostitutes, as porn actresses, as escorts, as massage girls–whatever they can be used for to make money.  The men they see as benevolent “gods” often turn out to just be demons in disguise.

Fuzoku Friday: Finding a job that's right for you (Part II)

Last week we introduced a few of the high-paying part-time jobs (高収入アルバイト) ladies take up to make some cash, and this week we’ll continue with four more career specialties:

Chat Lady

Chat Lady

Good for idiots: 2

No nudity required: 4

Work when you want: 3

Easy stand-by: 5

Calorie burner: 1

Payment: 1-star

Enjoy conversations with men, either over the internet as a Chat Lady or in a cafe as a Talk Lady. This isn’t a “service” job, and you can make money just by making conversation.

Continue reading Fuzoku Friday: Finding a job that's right for you (Part II)

NPR animates yakuza girlfriends, serial killers, and other exciting things

Humming killers

After Jake’s interview on NPR earlier this month, Thomas Dreisbach and other interns put their skills to work in editing a segment about Jake’s time covering the case of Gen Sekine, animal breeder turned serial killer in Saitama. It’s a fun, quick-and-dirty summary of “The Saitama Dog Lover Serial Disappearances, Part 1 & 2” (pages 102-135), and artist Kathryn DeFeo got Jake’s hairdo down pretty good.

Check out NPR: In Other Words, Japan Confidential

A Yakuza Encounter

After the 60 Minutes broadcast in November of 2009, we got several emails from foreigners in Japan who had had unpleasant encounters with the worst of the tattooed tribe. We also received some stories that put the yakuza in a good light, but those were the exception. Some details in this account have been altered to protect the name of the author. Of course, I sincerely doubt there would be any repercussions if details of an event so long ago was brought up now — but then again, I’d really hate to be wrong. Better safe than sorry.


To put things in perspective, in 1986, there were still no anti-organized crime laws (暴対法) on the books, and the yakuza had a very free reign to do pretty much what they wanted. I sincerely doubt they would beat up a “nosy foreign woman” but I don’t doubt that the woman writing this felt terrified at the time.  Nothing amazing happens in the story, but her description of the yakuza at work is very well-described and a reminder that when you take away the fancy trappings, the tattoos, and the “samurai references,” most yakuza are vicious bullies and common thugs. It’s important to remember that. This is her story.

In 1986, about two years before you [Jake] arrived in Japan, I had the great privilege of becoming the first person, and of course also the first American, to run the length of Japan from tip of the north to tip of the south. I suspect that being on foot all day, every day, one sees even more than those who live in one area and walk and drive to various places. I saw that everyone read the comics (manga),  and that they were extremely popular with the truck drivers and delivery people. Those comics are everywhere. I didn’t see a lot of yakuza but I did see them depicted in the comics.

Are the yakuza humorous? Comedian duo play yakuza for a day 苦笑い一杯

While the average Taro will cringe at the mention of the yakuza, it’s clear the culture and myth behind the organization still tickles the fancy of TV viewers in this clip from “HAMASHO.” Masashi Hamada, part of the well-known Downtown comedy duo, and rakugo storyteller/comedian Shohei Shofukutei are the hosts of  this a satirical late-night TV show that lead the pair around on various adventures.

(Editor note: I never realized that there is something kind of absurd about the in-your-face-out-in-the-open-ness of Japan’s yakuza problem until I did an interview with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.  I don’t think the boy scout comparison was so off…if boy scouts got badges for extortion, blackmail, and other criminal pursuits and they all swore absolute loyalty to the troop leader, the den mother, and had their troop symbols tattooed on their bodies… Jake)

An oldie but goodie, Hamada and Shofukutei take a fairly lighthearted tour of the yakuza world, dressed as a kumicho (gang-boss ie oyabun) and a kobun (follower ie child). It is not such a crazy portrayal of the old-school yakuza.

Tattoo artist Choshiro Nakano works on a gang member

In part 1, they visit horishi (彫師 – tattoo artist) Choshiro Nakano, who has been practicing the art for over 40 years. He’s currently adding some work on the side of a 29-year-old gang member, who says it took three years to do all the work on his body so far. According to Nakano, a full-body tattoo typically takes him four years to complete and costs upwards of ¥3 million yen. Traditional tattooing techniques are typically very painful, though the man in the video says, on a scale of 1 to 10, the pain of the tattoo he’s currently getting is only about a 3 or a 4. We also see Nakano’s wife’s full-body tattoo.

Continue reading Are the yakuza humorous? Comedian duo play yakuza for a day 苦笑い一杯

Fuzoku Friday

The fuzoku (風俗) industry, or sex industry, is an integral part of Japan’s underground economy and a multi-billion-dollar operation that is difficult to keep track of actual numbers because of the sheer size and continuously changing nature of the business. Estimates on the size of the industry have ranged between ¥1 trillion and ¥2.5 trillion, sometimes more.

Behind all that money are the workhorses, the thousands of Japanese women who get drawn into this “service industry,” attracted by the promises of a hefty paycheck for an easy job with a minimal time commitment. And indeed, these jobs appear to deliver, with some sex workers making over ¥10 million per year.

While there are a number of women who take up the trade looking for money to pay for their family, or for drugs, the majority of these ladies are working to satisfy a habit of a different kind — consumerism. For women who are looking for a lifestyle of posh restaurants, massages and manicures, and easy access to the season’s latest high-class brand goods, the sex industry is a viable option to earn a high income without the education, talent or long hours normally required for a high-paying career.

And how do eager job-seekers find work? Magazines, and most recently websites, have been pointing the way to open positions at sexual businesses of all colors. Printed to look like innocuous women’s magazines but with slightly suspicious cover text about how to boost salaries and massage techniques, these books can be found at convenience stores and pack in between glossy pages of makeup and restaurant articles volumes of information on sex work throughout the area in an easy-to-understand format.

Fuzoku job site

For this week’s Fuzoku Friday, here’s an example of an ad from the pages of “Lun Lun Work,” one of the most widely distributed and popular sex work magazines.

Delivery health ad

Type: Delivery health

Job: Companion

Age: 18 and over

Points: Paid daily, minimum salary guaranteed, starting bonus, private waiting room, home standby OK, dormitory available, childcare available, pickup available, alibi service available, moonlighting OK, 1-day trial OK, uniforms available

One of the largest in the Shibuya area

Start living a comfortable lifestyle

Fuzoku Debut Specialty Shop

Normal 18-29 years old women can make big bucks!

We offer the opportunity to make over ¥60,000 per day!

Perfect for autumn: Try a short-term part time job!

Qualifications: From 18-35 y.o. (no experience necessary)

Time: Open 9am-5am, start from 3 hours per day

Salary: From ¥35,000/day (paid daily in full)

Details: Wait for a call here or at home; no quotas or penalties; all registered employees receive bonuses; work when you want

Location: In a clean office building near Shibuya station!

Message: Tokyo XXXXX is a new type of delivery health service with four locations in Shibuya, one in Shinjuku and one in Shinagawa. Not only can you make more than ¥60,000 per day, but you can work safely in a stress-free environment. We also accept girls who are looking to get out of the business soon.

Information provided here is not meant to promote nor criticize the sex industry or sex workers, and is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only.

Welcome!

A look at Japan's underworld from a reporter who covered it for over a decade.
inside japan's underworld

Hello to all the viewers of 60 Minutes or the readers of the Washington Post who have stopped by after seeing the program and/or reading the article. We’d like to thank Lara Logan and the rest of the CBS News crew for visiting Tokyo, and hope everyone enjoyed the segment!

Browse around the site to learn more about the case of Tadamasa Goto and the rest of the Japanese underworld, and don’t forget to check out information about Jake Adelstein’s new book Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan.

For those who have yet to see the 60 Minutes feature on yakuza, it’s available for online viewing here.

Be Nice to the Yakuza, Or Else

Another amusing educational lesson by jake Adelstein for Publishing Perspectives, this time about the vital (literally) rules of being a yakuza reporter!

So, you want to become a Gokudokisha 極道記者, or rather, a journalist who writes about the yakuza? Then you should now there are some unwritten rules you will be expected to follow. (Read more about yazuka fan magazines here.)

1) No writing about ongoing criminal ventures or front companies.

2) When writing about yakuza arrested for extortion, assault and other crimes, the tone must be neutral.

3) Yakuza who are arrested for crimes such as theft and armed robbery should be treated as heretics, since those are, presumably, two crimes yakuza don’t commit. Street crimes, such as muggings, are off limits as well.

Read the rest here: Bonus Material: Be Nice to the Yakuza, Or Else!