The Hollywood Reporter recently published an article written by a reporter named Gavin Blair, about Tokyo Vice and my career. It contains numerous inaccuracies. Roughly one fourth of Mr. Blair’s article relates to a 2011 lawsuit involving a film director, Philip Day. In 2011, I was hired to work with Mr. Day on a documentary about the yakuza. In the course of filming, Mr. Day breached his agreement to protect sources and this resulted in a lawsuit that I am not free to comment about. My lawyer’s statement is here for your reference.
In my book, Tokyo Vice, I have taken great pains to explain why events were altered to protect people who confided in me, especially from retaliation by organized crime.
Standard Practices in Japan
In his article, Mr. Blair brings up the fact that I use anonymous sources in my work as an issue. Any competent journalist here knows that the civil servant laws here (公務員法) and the State Secrets Law make it a crime for government officials to divulge confidential information to third parties. He seems to have seized on my refusal to disclose the identity of my sources, especially to him, as a basis to attack my character and reputation.
In other words, there is nothing unusual about the fact that I keep the identity of my sources carefully concealed. This is standard practice in this country. To the contrary, the fact that I have been good about respecting the confidentiality of my sources is one of the reasons that I have been able to work in Japan for so long.
Sins Of Omission
In writing his article, Mr. Blair deliberately left out or ignored correspondences testifying to my credibility or verifying my reporting. My colleague and friend, Naoki Tsujii, who is incorrectly quoted in the article, contacted Mr. Blair after their interview because he had concerns he had been misunderstood because of the language barrier, but his efforts to clarify were completely ignored. He disputes Mr. Blair’s version of their conversation. He feels his words were taken out of context and maliciously used to generate a click-bait headline.
Decide For Yourself
I have posted a folder of source materials I’ve used to write Tokyo Vice, taking care to redact materials to protect sources. It’s been nearly 14 years since the book was finished—some of my sources have died. Some were friends who I miss. Some were reprehensible people but still sources I had to protect.
Generally speaking, when a source dies, so does the confidentiality agreement—and so I have revealed some of my sources in the folder. I have done this reluctantly, but I also feel that when possible it is best to share information about my work to deepen public understanding.
In the last ten years, my book has been fact-checked and examined by The Washington Post, The LA Times, 60 Minutes and The New Yorker. In that process, while no harm was intended by the fact-checkers, sources have almost been compromised or fired. I will not put them at risk again.
I have no further statement to make. I would like to say thank you to everyone who has read the book and would like to say an additional thank you to everyone who has given me their support. 感謝しております。以上
May 5th 2022
5 thoughts on “Response to The Hollywood Reporter Article”
It’s good to see Mr. Blair has added follow-up content to his original article. Your blog post was necessary given how Mr. Blair’s article was derived – with a specific intent/angle.
I’m just a reader, so I need all information from all perspectives so I can arrive at my own conclusions. Mr. Blair’s article – though well-written – was too one-sided. There is not enough background and build-up. Thank you for providing some of that additional perspective and material.
Whether or not I choose to believe one story or another doesn’t really matter. What matters is that the Reader gets all the information to form their own opinions.
Actually, he didn’t add the content. The editors at Hollywood Reporter added the content reluctantly but after realizing there were many problems with the article did so to correct the situation as best they could without deleting the entire article. The conclusion was completely changed.
I am a journalist in Brussels for La Libre Belgique,
I would like to write an article about you (a portrait), “Tokyo Vice” will be broadcasted next week,
Could it be possible to speak together ?
Maybe by zoom ?
Thanks a lot,
As I write, there’s news of Shinzo Abe’s assassination, and I’m near the end off your book on Audible. I respect your work and your maintaining the confidentiality of your sources.
Thank you for the work.
Joseph, thank you for the support and the respect. I have been covering the aftermath. Abe didn’t deserve a violent death but he left behind a legacy that does not serve Japan well. That’s the truth of the matter.