TOKYO PRIVATE EYE:
Investigation, Damnation, and Salvation In The Land Of The Setting Sun
Tokyo Detective (Tokyo Private Eye) the sequel to Tokyo Vice was published by Marchialy (France) on March 29th this year. The English version is coming in 2024.
The book opens on one of the most devastating days in Japan’s history, March 11, 2011, which left thousands dead and missing—and culminated in a triple nuclear meltdown. Our protagonist and narrator Jake Adelstein, seasoned American journalist turned private eye, who has brought back bags of supplies from the US to be taken to the disaster area by yakuza friends–discovers he’s having a meltdown of his own: liver cancer.
Join Jake as he takes us back on a journey and recounts the events leading up to the disaster, the 2009 publication of his memoir TOKYO VICE: An American Reporter On The Police Beat in Japan, and how he became a corporate gumshoe. He picks up where he left off, chronicling his other career, battling the yakuza and criminals as a due diligence investigator while battling his own worst enemy: himself. Previously the only American journalist to have been admitted to the insular Tokyo Metropolitan Police Press Club, Jake covered extortion, murder, and human trafficking–fighting to make Japan recognize the problem. No longer a reporter but still trying to be a knight in dingy armor, he realizes that even a paladin has to earn a living. And instead of having 10 million readers now he’s writing reports that will only be read by three corporate executives.
This sequel to TOKYO VICE is written as a stand-alone volume and provides an in-depth history of the inner-workings of crime in Japan, and not just the gangsters. With each job assignment Jake learns more about industries rife with financial fraud, anti-social forces, corruption, and fraudulent bookkeeping–and how to spot a business that no client should engage with.
The book is divided into three parts coinciding with the breakdown of Jake’s personal life in parallel with Japan’s meltdown and an in depth analysis of how the Yakuza operate: UNUSUAL EVENTS, MELTDOWN, and THE FALLOUT.
UNUSUAL EVENTS sets the stage for the state of Japan leading up to the meltdown. The yakuza, like many criminal organizations, were not born out of thin air. Their ranks have come from members of society who do not feel like they have a place. Those marginalized by society such as the Korean-Japanese and burakumin, among others, were not given many opportunities by society, and were drawn into a life of crime.
But it’s a high level of crime now. In fact, one day Japan’s equivalent of Classmates.com is taken over by a Yakuza front company. Information is king.
Jake transitions into a career as a detective introducing a team of characters ranging from fight-til’-the-death former prosecutor Toshiro Igari to brave right-hand researcher and human trafficking victim advocate, Michiel Brandt. He makes new friends and enemies along the way–while dealing with the PTSD from the events that took place in Tokyo Vice by self-medicating with sleeping pills, booze, casual sex and clove cigarettes.
Learn how gangsters were gradually ousted from the financial markets by the due diligence of dedicated investigators, rebel cops, and new laws.
Meanwhile, TOKYO VICE is published but an old foe resurges — the ruthless yakuza Tadamasa Goto. If Tokyo Vice was Jake’s attempt to ruin and get his nemesis ‘erased’– Goto outdoes him with the publication of his autobiography, Habakarinagara, loaded with veiled threats. When Jake asks his mentor, Igari Toshiro, to help him take Goto to court, Igari bravely agrees but…..
MELTDOWN lands us in a disrupted Japanese society. Jake learns he has liver cancer while Japan is in the midst of a nuclear meltdown. His “best friend forever” Michiel is diagnosed with leukemia for the fourth time while the corruption of the Japanese nuclear industry comes to light.
Jake, hired to find out whether Tokyo Electric Power Company is responsible for the accident and what that would mean for investors, returns to his investigator roots with a renewed attitude to not give up and seeks out a new enemy to vanquish.
In chapters from the FALLOUT like The Nine Digit Economy: How The Yakuza Turned Japan’s Stock Market Into Their Casino, he shows how and why the authorities felt that anti-social forces threatened the very foundations of Japan’s economy.
Jake gets ahold of the most dangerous photo in Japan, showing the Vice President of Japan’s Olympic Committee with the head of the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest yakuza group, but can he break the story before his own knees get broken? And in the process of reporting on the Olympics discovers that the biggest gang of all in Japan may be a political party, founded by war criminals including former Prime Minister Abe’s grandfather, yakuza, ultra-nationalists and funded by the CIA.
What’s the difference between the Liberal Democratic Party politicians and the much-feared Yamaguchi-gumi thugs? It may only really be the badges they wear on their lapel.
While the book can be an enriching companion and sequel to TOKYO VICE: An American Reporter On The Police Beat in Japan, TOKYO PRIVATE EYE: Investigation, Damnation, and Salvation In The Land Of The Setting Sun is a memoir that can stand alone recounting the years 2007 to 2014 through the eyes of an intrepid reporter and gumshoe with three decades spent covering the dark side of the sun.
Not only is it a riveting memoir about the life junctions we all face, including grief and career changes, but it also provides a working knowledge of Japanese organized crime, political corruption, the process of corporate investigations and shows the collusion between mafia, state, and business that led to a nuclear disaster. It also shows that Japan’s biggest problems are not necessarily the fading yakuza.
Early reviews have been positive. (Translated from French Into English)
Jake Adelstein has been a journalist in Japan for 30 years and this is his fourth book. If it is called Tokyo Detective, it is because the author had a career as a private detective where he investigated financial companies in Japan for other companies who wanted to have themselves if they risked compromising with yakuzas. He also tells us here about big scandals like the nuclear mafia, collusion in the organization of the Tokyo Olympic Games, financial schemes of all kinds with their (terrible) consequences and more private events like his cancer or the loss of close friends. A form of melancholy runs through the book, which also has a lot to contribute to help put the madness of this world into perspective.It’s a difficult book to qualify but an exciting read for anyone who wants to learn about the reality of Japan while discovering it from a very human point of view.
It is an understatement to say that Jake Adelstein immerses us in the heart of Japan and more particularly of its underground universe with its mafias, its front companies or its rogue politicians and magistrates. He dissects all the levels of corruption in Japanese society to make it a solid thriller bordering on documentary as the details of Japanese society abound.–
It’s very simple, the writing is a mixture of in-depth knowledge of Japan and a certain perfectly Western irony. If the author benefits from the knowledge acquired during his years there, he does not hesitate to remind us of the complexity of this Japanese society even through the eyes of a seasoned “Gaijin” like him. from DayFr Euro
TOKYO VICE has been adapted for television into an eight episode straight-to-series on HBO Max starring Ansel Elgort playing Jake Adelstein. The series also stars Ken Watanabe and is written and executive produced by Tony Award-winning playwright J. T. Rogers (Jake’s high school senpai) with Endeavor Content serving as the studio. Michael Mann directed the pilot episode and served as executive producer. The second season is currently filming in Tokyo
Jake Adelstein is one of few experts on Japanese organized crime and the underworld. A former special correspondent for the LA Times, he has written for the Times, the Washington Post, the Japan Times and Vice. His other two books, Le Dernier Des Yakuzas (2017) J’ai Vendu Mon âme En Bitcoins (2019) with Nathalie Stucky, have both been published by Marchialy in France, his “third home.” He currently writes for the Daily Beast, the Asia Times, Tempura in France, and ZAITEN.
*Press release cover photo by Reylia Slaby
3 thoughts on “Tokyo Private Eye (東京探偵) the sequel to Tokyo Vice was published on March 28th 2023, with Marchialy (France). English version next year!”
If you sell signed hardcover editions to Japan Subculture followers, I will definitely buy one. I read your last book and want to see how things have developed for you in your journey. Thank you.
Jake I got a hand it to you my experience in Tokyo from 1977 to 1984 as a reporter for the Japan times and the Tokyo bureau chief for billboard magazine was so completely anathema to yours and yet some similarities occur. I’m Jewish and I was the first female DJ on SM Tokyo, the first foreigner to have a talent and booking agency and probably the first foreign female to get beat up by the yakuza while I was in the music business.
My memoir is called Under My Skin- drama trauma and rock ‘n’ roll. The reason I got to Japan in the first place is because I wrote for circus magazine and was invited by kiss on a press junket to Japan in 1977.
You are amazing and I’m fascinated by your life story.
Sounds interesting! I will check out your book! Thank you!