I’m not the Jake Adelstein you’re looking for.

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Jake shows me his phone, sharing a photo he claims is worth a billion dollars. It’s a yet to be released shot of a crime family boss with the president of Japan University, who’s also the head of the Japanese Olympic Committee. The implications for corruption are obvious. “I’m publishing a story on this. The reporter who originally had this was beaten severely.” It was my idea that we meet and get dinner in the first place so I naturally offered to treat when we first corresponded. When the waitress brings a to go bag with dishes never intended to be eaten during dinner I can only laugh to myself… journalism never has, and maybe never will pay, but I’m more than happy to subsidize the honest work of a damn good investigative journalist.

Jake clearly feeds off the danger. Sure enough the piece was published days later. I get a strange feeling, not that I’m a clairvoyant, but just sometime tells me that Jake is pushing his luck. He insists that he knows what he’s doing. But that’s what I’m afraid of.

Origin of the peace-ies: The history of peace sign/V-sign in Japan

Live long and prosper. Try to stay calm and negotiate on.

By Sandra Barron for JSRC originally posted on March 9th, 2011 It was one of those nightmare commutes. A crowded train finally pulled up to a rush-hour platform, dense with people who’d already been delayed, who were already running late, and were spending this purgatorial time pushed up against piles of equally inconvenienced fellow commuters. […]

The Ministry Of Sickness And Death: An unpublished chapter of Tokyo Vice

Greenpeace action against Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) at Chropyne, Czech Republic, 2001.

How could it be that the people closest to the waste dumps weren’t getting more exposure to the deadly dioxin? The figures seemed very low any way I looked at it.

無縁仏(Muenbotoke): Buddhas Without Connections

On the 8th and 15th of this month, in Japan and in parts of Asia, they celebrate Nirvana Day. It commemorates the death of the Buddha and his liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth; pain and suffering. In Japan, the Buddha or a Buddha is often referred to as hotoke (仏). Over time, […]

And justice after all? Prosecutor Review Board Say “Charge TEPCO Execs with criminal negligence”

TEPCO executives might possibly be prosecuted for criminal negligence resulting in death and injury over the 3/11 triple nuclear meltdown in Fukushima. But will justice prevail? The odds are as good as there never being another nuclear accident in Japan. Ahem.

However, if the Tokyo Prosecutorial Board again rules that prosecution of the TEPCO executives is warranted then a team of lawyers will be chosen to play the role of the prosecutors and the accused will be charged. An independent government investigatory board concluded in 2013 that the nuclear accident could have been prevented and that TEPCO management was criminally negligent.

Fight For Your Right To (Dance) Party Past Midnight In Japan!

The National Police Agency of Japan is at long last (and after much public pressure) considering revising Japan’s archaic adult entertainment laws to allow dancing past midnight! Yes, Japan may finally be going footloose.

Ninkyodo, dude! Even The Yakuza Are Speaking English Now

Ninkyodo

Maybe the detective was right, because while the Yamaguchi-gumi may not have substantially expanded their operations, they are certainly trying to expand their appeal internationally. Recently, they debuted their own English version of the website, NINKYOUDOU (任侠道). Ninkyodo is the supposed to be the philosophy of the yakuza, an ethical code and way of life which places importance on helping the weak and self-sacrifice. The old-school yakuza, while still being essentially criminals, but mostly professional gamblers or street merchants–also maintained a code of honor which forbid theft, robbery, sexual assault, fraud and dealing in drugs. (Of course, racketeering, extortion, and other money-making ventures were not off-limits. Even a noble semi-samurai has to earn a living, right.)

Happy New Year Of The Horse 2014 (馬年) Come ride with us!

Happy Year Of The Horse! 
Just get on and let the horse go where it goes.

Japan Subculture Research Center has taken a long sabbatical since December of 2013. We meant to get things off with a bang this January but our editor in chief and assistant editor were both out of commission. So we’re taking the opportunity today to relaunch the website and wish you all a happy Chinese new year. The Chinese new year and once upon a time, the Japanese new year as well, followed the lunar calendar, so today’s new moon (Friday) means we can all say goodbye to the (water) snake year and say hello to the (wooden) horse year!

Book Review: Tokyo Underworld–a classic on the dark side of Japan

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There are very few gaijin (foreigners) who know what happens on the dark side of the rising sun like Robert Whiting. Whiting is an American author and journalist living in Japan, one of the rare ones who has written great books published in both English and Japanese language after he first set foot in Japan […]

Tokyo Vice: Interview with Jake Adelstein

The thing about the worst of the yakuza—and they’re not all evil—is that you can’t worry only about your own physical safety. There’s a chance that your friends or loved ones will be brutalized in your place. It’s certainly happened in Japan before, to other journalists. Even if you’re not terrorized physically, they can still ruin your life. Goto-gumi is a great intelligence-gathering organization, and extortion and blackmail are powerful tools to discredit someone or make them shut up—even Japan’s National Police Agency noted the group’s ability to use the media to silence their enemies. In the Goto-gumi’s case, they actually own a private detective agency. That’s not uncommon for organized crime groups in Japan, as is noted in the book. There are many yakuza groups that excel in collecting damaging information on cops and writers who get in their way. This summer in a police raid, the Aichi Police Department found the car registrations of several of their detectives in the offices of the yakuza. In other words, the yakuza know where the detectives live, and probably much more. That’s what makes them formidable entities—because if you cross them, they’ll expose your quirks, fetishes, weaknesses, indiscretions, and mistakes to the world. Failing that, they’ll find someone you care about and ruin their life.