• Thu. May 30th, 2024

Japan Subculture Research Center

A guide to the Japanese underworld, Japanese pop-culture, yakuza and everything dark under the sun.

In the yakuza world they say, “As soon as you get to the top, someone will try to kick you down.” The world of journalism is, sadly, surprisingly similar. Not that I’m a top world-class journalist, but apparently successful enough that it generates envy and a certain amount of trolling. I anger weeaboos and historical revisionists. 

(For the French Translation go to Comment gagner un combat perdu d’avance contre les auteurs de pièges à clics ?)

In the yakuza world they say, “As soon as you get to the top, someone will try to kick you down.” The world of journalism is, sadly, surprisingly similar. You can’t let yourself get kicked too much, but there’s no point in fighting the same fight over and over again. Like a good private eye, you have to remember who your client is and focus on getting your job done, rather than your rivals. 😉

Mostly I blow off the trolls and misanthropes but I’m a little tired of it.

 I’m 54. In many ways, I’ve been dealing with it since I started the job in 1993 when I knocked on a door at a crime scene and the housewife that answered insisted that as a gaijin, I obviously couldn’t be a reporter, and that I must be there to sell newspapers. So it goes. This month, on April 15th, marked 30 years since I started as a journalist in Japan. 

I still love my job. I’m happy to have moved on from primarily covering yakuza to Japanese politics, although the transition wasn’t hard. Japan is a one-party democracy and the ruling party, the Liberal Democrat Party (a misleading name) was founded with yakuza money by war criminals Kodama Yoshio and Kishi Nobusuke. The latter of the war criminals deserves an honorable mention for being Shinzo Abe’s grandpa.

I have taken breaks from journalism. I spent 2006 to 2008 working on a study of human trafficking commissioned by the US State Department, which of course, involved looking into how organized crime profited from it and who they paid off and chummed around with to get away with it. Not surprisingly Shinzo Abe was one name that certainly came up. But that’s another story. You can read the report

Not all yakuza are bad people but in general they’re bad for society. The average age of a yakuza is now about 51. Their numbers have been declining steadily since October 1st 2011. On this date, the organized crime exclusionary ordinances—which forbid doing business with the yakuza– went into effect nationwide.   

We’re fading out together. I write about them less and less. In my fourth book, Tokyo Detective, published in France the day after my 54th birthday, I try to explain why the Japanese mob is doomed and how it happened. 

I really enjoyed the book tour. I love France and I love the way they really take journalism seriously and their love of books and the crime and true-crime genre. Japan and France are weirdly similar in some ways (not a lot) but even in France (怨恨–grudges or envy) seem to really bring out the worst in people. 

Last autumn 2021, out of the blue, I got a surprisingly hostile letter from a French journalist and seemingly self-declared expert on Japan. 

He’s an expert on Japan because his wife is Japanese—and who can argue with that? 

He may not be able to read or write Japanese but his wife can. He might even be very handy with Google Translate. 

The gist of the letter was pretty much as follows. I’ll paraphrase. 

”I read your book, Tokyo Vice, and it’s fiction. You never covered organized crime. I know Japan. I even signed up for the database of your old newspaper, the Yomiuri Shimbun. I did a database search and there were only 150 articles with your name on it! Only two mentioned yakuza (organized crime)—so you must be lying.” 

And at that point, I was still wondering—-am I dealing with a well-meaning idiot or a malicious idiot? One never knows and I like to be charitable. 

I explained to him that in general, especially from 1993 to 2005, reporters at the Yomiuri Shimbun didn’t get bylines. Especially on stories printed on the National News Section (shakaibu/社会部). In fact, most of the time, you only got your name put on an article if it was an explainer, opinion piece, feature, or if it involved overseas news. Those were the unwritten rules. Anyone who did a cursory look at the National News pages from 1993 to 2005 would get it. 

Because I have been trolled many times before by journalists or bloggers who want to make a name for themselves by stepping on my face (metaphorically), I sent him a list of prepared links, and access to a folder with hundreds of pages of material in Japanese and English so he could verify my career path and my background himself. Some of it was redacted to protect sources. But it was clear that he didn’t do his homework. Instead he sent a weirdly aggressive misleading letter to an organization he felt certain would have bad things to say about me: my former employer. 

His editors at Le Point, which is an excellent news magazine, to their credit, supposedly told him “You’re obsessed and there’s no story to be written. Get off your vendetta and get back to work.” But he’s obsessive and having been told to drop the story, he gave the memo to someone else. Sort of like an arsonist who fails to start a fire, and hands the matches to his buddy. 

It’s a little unethical to ask questions using the name of your newspaper and pass that on to another organization—because they don’t know all the details. It’s at the very least irresponsible.

But everyone in this business knows, if you’re going to write less than savory things about someone, the best way is to find a probable enemy of that person and ask. Then you can blame any slander on them. “Just reporting what I was told but didn’t verify.”

Here’s the list of questions they asked and my answers. I doubt they’ll share either of them with you — my guess is that they realized too late how stupid, lazy, and vindictive they come off as in context. 

Some of these questions could have been answered easily if they had done their research– I’ve already answered them on the record elsewhere. 

The problem with clickbait journalists is they use negative scoring. Every right answer is thrown out and they will only leave the questions you can’t answer, didn’t answer, are imposssible to answer or won’t answer to make you look bad. 

I get these questions over and over. Pardon my caustic notes under them, I couldn’t help it. I hope they’re at least entertaining.

The Penultimate Guide To Lazy Questions I’ve Already Answered Redux 

Prove to me that you did all the things written in your book thirty years ago or that happened twenty years ago. 

Man, can you prove what you had for breakfast three weeks ago? How about three years ago? Fortunately for you I am an information hoarder so if you looked at the files I sent you in September of last year, you’d be able to answer a lot of those doubts yourself. 

If you were seriously interested you could have started here with this article published on one of the best cultural and news sites about Nippon–Unseen Japan:

The article title:

Tokyo Vice’s Jake Adelstein: Everything You Wanted To Know (But Were Mildly Afraid To Ask)

But you’re lazy. And you’re only going to cherry-pick the things that I can’t answer and ignore every “correct” answer that I make to your barrage of questions. 

Because if you admit you were wrong, you look stupid. And your goal is to make me look stupid. And since you have the forum, like in a casino, you’re the house.  I guess we can see who’s going to win. 

Provide me with your police sources, your newspaper contacts and twenty people who can verify your entire career.

First of all, I wouldn’t do it if I could. My time at the Yomiuri has been fact-checked by the Washington Post, The LA Times, 60 Minutes and The New Yorker—I’m not doing it again. Your job is to look for them—you’re the person with a point to prove.I started working in 1993 at 24. Many of my sources, contacts, people who could vouch for me were twice my age then. Some have sadly died. In a ten-year period a lot of people pass away–we are mortal beings. In a 30-year period–a lot more people die. 

I can’t answer every single question I get nor am I bound to do so. I don’t remember everything that happened 30 years ago. There are many people who could’ve vouched for me 20 years ago, maybe 10 years ago, but a lot of them are dead. 

I’m many things and a self-professed paladin but I’m not a necromancer. 

For those of you who didn’t read a lot of Conan The Barbarian growing up, a necromancer is someone who can revive the dead or get information from them. It shouldn’t be confused with a neuromancer—a sort of cyber-wizard who might appear in a William Gibson. 

BUT, if you wanted to actually put some work in, you could verify a lot in the documents which were posted online here, with a link to more in this article, Tokyo Vice (The Book): Everything You Wanted To Know but Didn’t Ask Because You Were Too Busy Watching The Show

Of course, you’ll provide documents to refute our accusations and translate them for us. 

Of course, you’re out of your mind. Of course not. If I’m going to translate something I usually get paid for it. Translate it yourself or find someone competent to do it, and translate it with context and without malice. Referring you back to this folder again. My editor Amy Plambeck suggested: Get your wife to translate them! 

You say that the book, Tokyo Vice, was never published in Japan because it was too dangerous, but even after the danger is gone it still isn’t published. Why?

Why don’t you hire someone to at least do a Google Search in my name on Amazon? If you’re going to suck up my time, do the bare minimum of homework. 

I rewrote the book, using the original documents, with a second party checking on them for me, and it was published as トウキョウ・バイス: アメリカ人記者の警察回り体験記 in May of 2016 on Amazon. Audible also released the book, spending a considerable amount of money and time making the production using several voice actors. 

The Japanese version has a four star rating. I’m sure you haven’t read it. 

I’m sure you’ll find the worst review to quote in your hit piece. May I suggest the one star review I got because someone couldn’t figure out how to download it? 

Let me ask the same stupid question in a different way. For the first book Tokyo Vice, when Mr. Adelstein was questioned about the non publication in Japanese, he explained that this was the consequence of risk assessments by the legal department of his Japanese publisher. The latter would have feared “a bomb” and thus canceled the Japanese release, did you have confirmation of this version? 

As mentioned before, the reader’s report in Japanese was posted online here 

Trust me, it’s there. You just need to search, kid. 

Why don’t you dance your fingers across the keyboard and check. And if you want to verify the report’s  authenticity—that’s your job! Find people from Kodansha International, which is no longer in existence. Good luck! It won’t be easy unless you’re just shiftless and don’t attempt it.. 

Your articles are full of anonymous sources so you must have made them up!

Unfortunately, in Japan, especially concerning police matters, anonymous or unnamed sources in articles are the norm. 

Especially if it’s investigative journalism and not an official announcement. 

The Japanese civil servants laws make it a punishable crime for any official, including police officers, to share confidential information obtained on the job. Police can be and have been fired for talking to reporters and/or third parties and in some cases prosecuted. This is why in a typical week, The Mainichi Shimbun, a paper in Japan, might use the phrase “according to sources close to the investigation” or “investigative sources” over 20 times. With yakuza, getting named as a source, it might cost them not only their job but their life as well.  

Any self-respecting journalist in Japan who doesn’t mention this has deliberately omitted important details and has questionable motives or is an idiot or doesn’t read Japanese newspapers. But now you know. Ideally, when possible, I like to get on the record quotes or at least some agreement for attribution. 

The last time I put a magazine in touch with a detective I knew, their fact-checker called him at work, identifying the name of the publication. He was almost fired as a result. Of course, the person making that call didn’t understand the repercussions of identifying a police officer as a source, or didn’t care.

What about the other books, did the same process take place each time?

Dude, I never wanted to publish The Last Yakuza in Japanese. I need a few more people to pass away before that’s a good idea. I never thought I Sold My Soul For Bitcoins would sell in Japan but I might try. Tokyo Detective, might be published after the Tokyo Vice manga is printed.

You never really passed an examination at the Yomiuri and your claim that you got hired because you excelled in the translation section is a lie. 

Jesus Christ, I posted the exam results online months ago. Thank god I kept this crap around for years. Also, I never claimed that the sole reason I was hired was due to my excellent translation ability. It certainly helped. On the score sheet given to me by the newspaper, I was number one among all applicants in 英語問題 (English Problems)—which means translating from Japanese into English and from English into Japanese. 

You were not the foremost expert on organized crime during your time in Tokyo at the Yomiuri. In fact, you barely even covered the subject. You are not an expert on the yakuza. 

I never claimed to be “Tokyo’s best expert on the yakuza” unless I was drunk or jet-lagged. In brief, BEFORE I went to Tokyo, I spent about 6 years in Saitama, over three years covering the yakuza (1993-1996). In fact from 1994 to 1996, I was in charge of covering the Organized Crime Countermeasures Division 1 and 2. Even at the Prefectural Politics level I covered organized crime, especially relating to the collapse of the Saitama Shogin bank. if you want confirmation—-haul ass to Saitama and ask around. From 1999 to 2000, I covered the 4th Police District, which includes Kabukicho, Japan’s redlight district. I worked on two series for the National News Department about crime in Japan. One became a book called 組織犯罪 (Organized Crime). From 2003 to 2004, I was assigned to the Metropolitan Police Department covering the newly formed 組織犯罪対策部 (Organized Crime Control Bureau). Specifically, I was in charge of Organized Crime Control Division 5 (Drugs and Guns) and OCDB Special Squad, doing credit card crime. Most of that is detailed in Tokyo Vice, if you read it. Even after leaving the Metro post in 2005 back to the regular National News Department still assisted on crime coverage. From 2006 to 2008, I worked on a study of human trafficking in Japan for the US State Department  and guess who’s heavily involved in that? 

But seriously, do your homework. Start here: 

https://www.japansubculture.com/12-lessons-learned-after-30-years-as-a-journalist-in-japan/

I’ve posted about 160 documents which translate into hundreds of pages of material in Japanese and English in the hopes that people who want to know more about Japan, police, yakuza and the background to my books are elucidated. You actually have to read them, though ↓

The Tokyo Vice and Tokyo Detective Sources Materials For The Curious

There are many journalists who are well-versed in organized crime in Japan more than myself. A few outstanding individuals come to mind. Isano Masakatsu (磯野正勝) who was first a police reporter than a yakuza reporter. Noboru Hirosue aka “Professor Yakuza.” Atsushi Mizoguchi. Tomohiko Suzuki. Masami Kimura (Farewell Yamaguchi-gumi: The Half-Life of Tadamasa Goto). And of course, the legendary and perhaps first yakuza reporter (reporter on the yakuza) Reikichi Sumiya (RIP).

However, becoming an expert on the yakuza (a misleading term for the 23+ organized crime groups in Japan with different emblems, revenue streams, bosses, and history) actually also involves a certain amount of academic study and collecting materials as well. Over the years, I’ve obtained about 40 videos of succession ceremonies and funerals which kindly often name the yakuza on the screen. I’ve read over 200 books. I’ve spent hundreds of hours with organized crime cops, yakuza (who were yakuza at the time) and retired yakuza. I’ve made databases of their front companies and organizations. I’ve kept 14 years worth of yakuza fanzines– all of which I read. 

In fact, I was once weirdly written up and praised for my fair coverage in a yakuza fanzine, the best of the monthlies, Jitsuwa Document.  Great photos, lovely haiku, and always a section of tattooed men and women showing off their colors. 

So, in short, yes I know a lot about the yakuza and have covered them, written about them, dealt with them, and avoided them whenever possible for decades. And they were a huge part of what I covered while I was at the Yomiuri, from my Saitama days and even after. 

Do I need to chop off a pinkie for you to recognize that I might know my subject matter? 

You were never under police protection. Prove that you were. 

Have a look around the folder above.  And also—-do you even know what the term means? Police protection in Japan (警察保護対象)in practice means the police patrol your house on a regular basis and are on the lookout for anything suspicious or unusual. In the good old days, they’d leave a yellow post-it in my mailbox with the police mascot, Pipo-kun, on it, telling me that everything was okay. 

Sometimes the notes read, “Please sort your garbage better.”“You left the door unlocked.”

I hired an ex-yakuza to be my bodyguard and driver in 2008. He worked for me until 2015. It helped me feel safe. The cops from the Kitazawa Police Station and him got along great most of the time. 

Your book Tokyo Vice is full of errors and mistakes!

The book is full of typos. A high-school student once sent me a carefully outlined, underlined and highlighted edition of the book with all the grammatical errors etc.

 I have deliberately changed details in some parts. 

If you read pg 331, Notes On Sources and Source Protection, you’ll find at the very bottom. “I’ve gone to great lengths to protect the names of sources in this book. I have changed names, used nicknames, altered nationalities and identifying details and more. I’ve tried to keep a good balance between obscuring and misleading, and I hope that has worked.” 

I’ve protected sources and also people who’s lives I didn’t feel deserved to be ruined.

Sometimes, I have failed. In 2004, there were a series of deaths and drug overdoses in Roppongi, related to one dealer. The victims were high-profile individuals and the my scoop made the front page. One of the victims, an investment banker, survived. But then, partly due to my sharing of information, he was named in a British paper and killed himself. I never felt there was a need to name him. Yes, he’d broken the law but he’d only hurt himself.

So, maybe you feel that my efforts to protect sources are unimportant. I beg to differ. PS. Read the whole page and you’ll be a little wiser! 

You’re a terrible Zen Buddhist priest. You’re not serious about your practice. 

Yes, I’m a terrible Zen Buddhist priest. I would like to plead that one thing distracting me from my spiritual development is having to spend time dealing with little weasels who expect me to drop everything so they can write a lopsided polemic about me and maybe become famous. Or infamous. 

The unnecessary ambush journalism practices also remind me that I’m still not doing very well in keeping the 9th grave precept: do not give into anger. Honestly, dudes, you piss me off. That’s a spiritual defeat on my part. I’m trying to do better. 

Anyway, this is one reason I’m writing to you here. I have other things I’d like to do. 

Go read the documents. 

Why are you such a publicity hound?

Because it’s better to be a barking mutt than a dead dog. Everybody notices if the barking dog suddenly vanishes. A senior yakuza journalist (a writer who specializes in covering organized crime) once gave me this lovely advice. “When you’re forgotten, you may be gone altogether. You may forget about the articles you wrote that pissed them off; they will not. Stay in the public eye.” The Japanese mafia groups don’t behave like the Mexican mafia—killing critics without hesitation—but they do attack journalists and their families. Yakuza journalists who are forgotten die lonely deaths. 

Why does your former employer say mean things about you? 

I had a great experience at the Yomiuri and there are many wonderful reporters still working there. I’m grateful for working there. But in November 2011, in an op-ed for Yukan Fuji, wrote that the de-facto Emperor of Yomiuriland, the Rupert Murdoch of Japan, Tsuneo Watanabe was “a cancer at the Yomiuri.” 

The article was in defense of my mentor and former Hidetoshi Kiyotake. In the piece,  I also referred to Mr. Watanabe by his nickname, Nabetsune. And I compared him to a yakuza boss. 

In fact, I wrote:“…Chairman Watanabe is relentless in crushing those he views as his enemies. He uses all kinds of power, including the media, politicians, police, and lawyers, to crush them…”

Perhaps, this was unwise. There may be other reasons I’m not going to be throwing the first pitch at a Yomiuri Giants game anytime soon.

*Note: In saying Yomiuriland,  I am referring to the Yomiuri media and business empire, which includes a baseball team, not the actual Yomiuriland which is a great amusement park. 

The Yomiuri Shimbun National News Department still does amazing news reporting. 

I demand you verify your entire work history of the last 30 years in 48 hours.

I demand you give me the power of time travel. 

Here is a two page densely written memo in Japanese which consists of questions sent to X from Z and their answers.. You have ten minutes to read it, that should be enough. So what do you say? 

It’s enough to skim it, notice that it’s not addressed to anyone, it’s not signed by anyone and there’s no information on who actually sent it. I’ll need ten days to verify it’s real, if you can at least tell me who Z is. 

What’s your position on the Tinseltown Reporter article written about you? 

I’ve posted it here—but in brief, I think it’s a shoddy piece of work. It was refuted by people who were allegedly interviewed for it and there were numerous material omissions. Please compare the published version and the final version online. It had to be amended, altered and corrected several times and the ending was completely rewritten. What does that tell you? 

Why is this article called “Lessons Learned From Encounters With Clickbait Journalists?

In general, when a bad media organization or a reporter with a chip on his/her shoulder guns for you—you can’t win. Yellow journalists will come up with a conclusion and a headline first and cherry-pick information to match it. 

Occasionally, you’ll also run into what we call “dark journalists” who wittingly or unwittingly do a smear campaign on behalf of the people you’ve pissed off.

Karen Attiah at the Washington Post has been the subject of such polemics, with the Saudi Arabian government orchestrating it behind the scenes. 

How dare you accuse us of being yellow journalists before we’ve written our incendiary click-bait polemic! 

Don’t get upset! I didn’t even name you (yet). Maybe you’re just misguided and overworked so you don’t have time to do fact-finding. 

“Yellow journalism” refers to media reporting which places sensationalism over facts. Then in Japan there’s the term “dark journalist”  which is a general term for a journalist who makes a living by demanding money for stories about corporate scandals and the like. They are often paid to bury a story, instead of writing it. 

Both kinds of  journalists are rather unscrupulous.  Someday, there will be a Tucker Carlson School of Journalism which lays out all the tricks of the trade, but until then, here’s a few things that strike me as yellow journalism practices with a few examples. Maybe you can learn not to do these things. 

There are good ways to write an article if you’re really interested in the truth. But if you’re from the Tucker Carlson School of Journalism and you’ve already written your headline—it doesn’t matter. You just keep the facts that fit your headline and throw out everything else. 

If your headline is “Jake Adelstein is a fraud and exaggerated his work and his career” and your thesis is  “He never really covered organized crime at the Yomiuri Shimbun and he doesn’t know what he’s talking about” — then you’ll omit anything that casts doubt on that premise and highlight what might support it. 

There are other techniques used by journalists with an agenda or clickbait lottery dreams that work well and are hard to fight. 

They pretend that what they know is a lie might be true. 

They learn how to use misrepresentation and material omission to make a point. 

If you want to destroy someone’s credibility, it’s not hard. The first thing you need to do is misrepresent the facts and commit a series of material omissions. A misrepresentation, as you know, is a false or misleading statement or a material omission which renders other statements misleading, with intent to deceive. A material omission is basically leaving out anything that makes your case look weak or shows you’ve messed up. 

So that’s why it can seem like unwinnable war if an unscrupulous reporter goes after you—it’s not hard to shape a negative story or discredit someone  if you’re not interested in the truth.

You just start with a conclusion, one that will get clicks on your little article. Write a sensational headline. 

Only report things that support your conclusion and the headline and ignore everything else. 

Omit any trace of you asking a mistaken question that is answered correctly. Talk to the enemies of the person you’re attacking–they’ll provide you with nasty things that you can’t write. Just add it as hearsay. Never question the motives of the people giving you what you want to hear. Ask leading questions that put words into the mouth of your victim and hope they fall for it. Don’t add details or facts that weaken your case. 

Ambush the writer/celebrity and don’t give them ample time to respond—if you can trick them into making an off the cuff comment, you’ve won. 

If a clickbait journalist guns for you, how do you win? 

As Lao Tzu, the Taoist philosopher, once said:

“Credible words do not sound pretty, pretty words are not credible.

A nice person is not good at arguing, a person who is good at arguing is not nice.

A person who has real knowledge does not show off,

A person who shows off does not have real knowledge.

Great men do not accumulate things for themselves.

The more they do for others, the more they have,

The more they give to others, the more they get.

The law of the heavens is to benefit everything without harming it,

The law of great men is to do things for the world without fighting for the credit.”

–Translated by Xiaolin Yang, Chapter 81 (Tao Te Ching) 

The only way to win, and it’s still a scorched victory is to not engage seriously with the enemy. You tell the truth, put out the facts, share your materials as best you can, and hope that people who really care will take some time and decide for themselves. 

If we use the examples of clickbait journalists as 反面教師 (Hanmen Kyoshi)—those who teach by their bad example, how can I be a better journalist or foreign correspondent?

Don’t come to a conclusion before knowing the facts. Don’t shape a story to meet a headline. 

Do your job and look for verification of what people tell you from at least three reliable sources. 

Learn to work with other journalists. Share information. 

You also must do a lot of reading. 

If you have documents you can’t read, find a competent translator. Google Translate is not that. 

Meet with people from many professions, listen to what they have to say, read the books and articles they write. Cultivate sources and protect them after you’ve spoken with them. 

When an article is finished, try to send a copy to the people you interviewed. 

Remember the kindnesses paid to you and try to reciprocate. That’s just basic human decency. 

If you find your premise is incorrect, drop the story. Move on. 

Don’t name your sources if that will get them put in jail. Know the laws of the country you’re working in. 

Find stories worth writing.

It’s easy to write a story nit-picking about someone’s career or their resume. Easy to do. But for example, what about the bribery scandal involving Japan’s Olympic Committee and the 2020 Olympics? The French authorities were investigating diligently. Japan’s Olympic Committee Chairman had to resign—and is almost hiding out. Yet, when France won the 2024 Olympics, the investigation appeared to stop. 

That’s a story worth doing. 

The terrible Fukushima nuclear disaster—what really happened? What else did TEPCO cover-up? What is actually going to be in the tons of contaminated water they dump into the ocean? That’s a story with a huge environmental impact. 

Of course, a story like that takes time, money, effort. And TEPCO definitely won’t do the translation for you. 

And finally, check out my amended Rules For Journalists and see if it helps. 

What should a good journalist do when publicly attacked? 

Hidetoshi Kiyotake, my former supervisor at the Yomiuri, gave me some good advice which I will share with you. 

He was almost sued into bankruptcy by the Yomiuri Shimbun after criticizing the paper. He said at a press conference on November 25th 2011, that the CEO of the company told him, “You’re now in all-out war with the newspaper. You’ll be destroyed.”

He survived and went back to journalism and became a successful author. His latest book is already being turned into a  TV drama.  Here was his advice to me last year.

“If you’re going to be an investigative journalist here, you have to make up your mind and be ready [for what comes]. You must endure unreasonable criticism, and continue to fight. 

In Japan, reporters who reveal their sources are scorned and cannot continue to do proper and decent reporting. That’s why you must keep your important sources anonymous. This often leads to investigative journalists having to go it alone, feeling isolated. You just have to believe in yourself and your friends and hang in there.”

****

(調査報道記者として不公平に叩かれる宿命について)腹を据えて、理由のない批判に耐え、戦わなければならない。日本では情報源を明かすような記者は軽蔑され、まともな取材を続けられない。だから、重要な情報源は匿名にならざるを得ないのだ。そのために調査報道にあたる記者はしばしば孤立する傾向にある。自分や友人を信じて、頑張るしかないよ

Is there anything else you’d like to bitch about? 

Nope, I’d just like to thank all the solid editors, mentors, fact-checkers and journalists I’ve worked with over the years as well as some wonderful sources. It’s been a great three decades. Thanks to Christopher Dickey (RIP), Ky Henderson, Jason Mojica, Howard Rosenberg, Rieves Weidman, Emil Pacha, Cyril Gay, Gabriel Snyder, John Pomfret, Randy Schmidt, Hidetoshi Kiyotake, ZAITEN Editor Kitahara. And thanks to all the people who’ve actually read my work and took the time to read this.

I’ll probably do this another 30 years. My dad is 85 and still an acting medical examiner. It’s a family tradition to work forever. 

感謝しております。

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Final notes:

I’ve uploaded a huge numbers of articles that I wrote or helped write during my time with at the Yomiuri and and supplementary files for those who want to know more about Tokyo Vice, Tokyo Detective or crime in Japan—here in the archive. It’s a shame that often we didn’t get credited for our work and articles were unsigned. I did cut out and save a large number of what I wrote and helped write. When putting them together recently I looked at my diary, my notes, and relied on memory–although some articles were written over 20 years ago, so if I am off here and there, go easy on me. While sifting through the files, I was delighted to find a document by my supervisor complimenting me, Murai-san, and Hirao-san for our long running work on one of the most important yakuza investigations in recent years from 2003 to November 2004. It was the Kajiyama Susumu case. He was called the Emperor of Loan Sharks. It’s a chapter in Tokyo Vice. Our work was recognized and we were nominated for an internal award. It was significant. It helped spur changes in the law to target money laundering by the yakuza and others. It made the police examine how to compensate the victims with the seized money. The joy of good reporting is making a positive difference.

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