Reuters’ Isabel Reynolds gets up close and personal with Jake Adelstein about the sotry behind Tokyo Vice.
In his English-language memoir, “Tokyo Vice,” which will be published in the United States this week, [Adelstein] tells the story of how he got to grips with the unique Japanese way of journalism, becoming such a serious irritant to the yakuza that he faced death threats and was placed under police protection in 2008.
Adelstein, who belonged to a rare breed of foreign journalists writing for the Japanese-language press, spoke to Reuters recently about his career and crime in Japan.
Here they come, hopefully one in a long line of reviews!
“Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan” (Pantheon Books, 352 pages, $26), by Jake Adelstein: A journalist is supposed to observe and report his story, not become part of it. But by the time Jake Adelstein found himself face to face with an enforcer for one of Japan’s most vicious mafia gangs, it was too late.
“Erase the story or be erased,” was the yakuza’s message. “Your family, too.”
It was an offer Adelstein couldn’t refuse. As a Tokyo crime reporter for the Yomiuri Shinbun, Adelstein’s tirelessness and loyalty had won him respect and trust on both sides of the law as well as at Japan’s largest newspaper. But when an organized crime boss threatens to kill you and your family, it’s time to go, Adelstein reasoned.
He packed up and left Japan with his story. It was a fantastic one, too. Yakuza heavyweight Tamagata Goto had sold out his own gang to the FBI in order to receive a liver transplant in the U.S. ahead of ailing American citizens. But as juicy as the story was, it wasn’t worth dying over.
That changed when Goto came after Adelstein again, putting the two quite literally in a fight to the death. Writing his story could get Adelstein killed, but it was the only weapon he had that could stop Goto.
Review: When an American journalist gets too close to his story on Japan’s yakuza, all bets are off [Associated Press via the San Francisco Examiner]
by Jake Adelstein
JSRC has been in hibernation for most of November, while I’ve been re-evaluating my place in the world after Goto Tadamasa’s fall from power, making a living, and working on the Japanese draft of TOKYO VICE. The book may end up coming out in Japanese before it comes out in English.
Many interesting things have happening in Japan’s underworld while we were away and we hope to share them with you by the end of December. By the way, if anyone has questions about the yakuza, crime in Japan, the latest strange trends in the country, or suggestions for something you’d like to see on this site–feel free to write in.
The stories Jake Adelstein wrote as a crime reporter for a Japanese newspaper have earned him and his family a death threat from one of the country’s most notorious and influential yakuza. Writing a book about crime and criminal culture in Japan is likely to have further enraged the Tokyo uderworld. Adelstein never planned it this way.
The information on the July 16th Program can be found here.
Jake Adelstein was featured on The Media Report on June 5, 2008. The audio download and transcript are available from abc.net.au