9780307475299

Tokyo Vice

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780307475299

  • ISBN10:

    0307475298

  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 10/5/2010
  • Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard

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Summary

From the only American journalist ever to have been admitted to the insular Tokyo Metropolitan Police Press Club: a unique, firsthand, revelatory look at Japanese culture from the underbelly up. At nineteen, Jake Adelstein went to Japan in search of peace and tranquility. What he got was a life of crime... crime reporting, that is, at the prestigious Yomiuri Shinbun.

For twelve years of eighty-hour work weeks, he covered the seedy side of Japan, where extortion, murder, human trafficking, and corruption are as familiar as ramen noodles and sake. But when his final scoop brought him face to face with Japan's most infamous yakuza boss - and the threat of death for him and his family - Adelstein decided to step down... momentarily. Then, he fought back.

In Tokyo Vice, Adelstein tells a riveting, often humorous tale of his journey from an inexperienced cub reporter - who made rookie mistakes like getting in a martial-arts battle with a senior editor - to a daring, investigative journalist with a price on his head. With its vivid, visceral descriptions of crime in Japan and an exploration of the world of modern-day yakuza that even few Japanese ever see, Tokyo Vice is a fascination, and an education, from first to last.

“Marvelous. . . . Tokyo Vice offers a fascinating glimpse into Japan’s end-of-last-century newspaper culture as seen from a gaijin’s perspective. It’s filled with startling anecdotes and revelations. . . . Adelstein writes of his quest for scoops with sardonic wit, and his snappy style mixes the tropes of detective fiction with the broader perspective of David Simon’s books as he makes a careful account of his journalistic wins and losses. . . . The author’s gallows humor bleeds into even darker, more serious hues once Adelstein starts covering the Japanese mafia. . . . Astonishingly proves that no matter how weird and perverse Japan may seem in fiction, the real thing never fails to exceed our most violent expectations.”—Sarah Weinman, Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind

“Exposes Tokyo’s darkest, seamiest, most entertaining corners. . . . A gritty, true-to-life account of 12 years on the news beat as a staffer for a Japanese daily — and it is exceptional. Its classic atmospherics rekindle memories of Walter Winchell and Eliot Ness. It’s a tale of adrenalin-depleting 80-hour weeks, full ashtrays, uncooperative sources, green tea, hard liquor, and forays into the commercialized depravity of Shinjuku’s Kabukicho. . . . Definitely raises the bar. . . . A classic piece of 20th century crime reporting.”—The Japan Times

Author Biography

Jake Adelstein was a reporter for the Yomiuri Shinbun, Japan’s largest newspaper, from 1993 to 2005. From 2006 to 2007 he was the chief investigator for a U.S. State Department-sponsored study of human trafficking in Japan. Considered one of the foremost experts on organized crime in Japan, he works as a writer and consultant in Japan and the United States. He is also the public relations director for the Washington, D.C.-based Polaris Project Japan, which combats human trafficking and the exploitation of women and children in the sex trade.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpts

FATE WILL BE ON YOUR SIDE

July 12, 1992, marked the turning point of my education about Japan. I was glued to a position next to the phone, feet inside my mini- refrigerator—in the heat of the summer any cool will do—waiting for a call from theYomiuri Shinbun, Japan’s most prestigious newspaper. I would land a job as a reporter, or I would remain jobless. It was a long night, the culmination of a process that had stretched out over an entire year.

Not long before that, I had been wallowing in the luxury of not caring a bit about my future. I was a student at Sophia (Joichi) University in the middle of Tokyo, where I was working toward a degree in comparative literature and writing for the student newspaper.

So I had experience, but nothing that would pass for the beginnings of a career. I was a step up from teaching English and was making a decent income translating instructional kung fu videos from English into Japanese. Combined with an occasional gig giving Swedish massage to wealthy Japanese housewives, I earned enough for day-to-day expenses, but I was still leaning on the parents for tuition.

I had no idea what I wanted to do. Most of my fellow students had jobs already promised them before their graduation—a practice called naitei, which is unethical, but everyone does it. I had gotten such a promise too, with Sony Computer Entertainment, but it was good only if I extended my schooling for another year. It wasn’t a job that I really wanted, but it was, after all, Sony.

So in late 1991, with a very light class load and lots of time on my hands, I decided to throw myself into studying the Japanese language. I made up my mind to take the mass communication exams for soon-to-be university graduates and try to land a job as a reporter, working and writing in Japanese. I had the fantasy that if I could write for the school newspaper, it couldn’t be much more difficult to write for a national newspaper with eight or nine million readers.

In Japan, people don’t build a career at the major newspapers by working their way up through local, small-town newspapers. The papers hire the bulk of their reporters straight out of university, but first the cubs have to pass a standardized “entrance exam”—a kind of newspaper SAT. The ritual goes like this: Aspiring reporters report to a giant auditorium and sit for daylong tests. If your score is high enough, you get an interview, and then another, and then another. If you do well enough in your interviews, and if your interviewers like you, then you might get a job promise.

To be honest, I didn’t really think I’d be hired by a Japanese newspaper. I mean, what were the chances that a Jewish kid from Missouri would be accepted into this high-end Japanese journalistic fraternity? But I didn’t care. If I had something to study for, if I had a goal, however unreachable, the time spent chasing it might have some collateral productivity. At the very least, my Japanese would improve.

But where should I apply? Japan has more than its share of news media, which are also more vital than in the United States.

TheYomiuriShinbun has the largest circulation—more than ten million a day—of any newspaper in Japan and, in fact, the world.The Asahi Shinbunused to be a close second—now it’s less close but still second. People used to say that theYomiuriwas the official organ of the LDP, the conservative Liberal Democratic Party, which has dominated Japanese politics since World War II; the Asahi was the official newspaper of the Socialists, who are almost invisible these days; and theMainichi Shinbun, the third largest, was the official newspaper of the anarchists, because the paper could never figure out whose side it was on.The Sankei Shinbun, which was then probably the fourth largest paper, was consider

Excerpted from Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan by Jake Adelstein
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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Customer Reviews

Read Tokyo Vice! April 12, 2011
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Tokyo Vice cannot be called simply a textbook. It is a life - a slice of life of one American reporter working for one of the largest newspapers in Japan. This slice of life account opens up a window view into another world that lies just under the surface of what we think of as the norm. Tokyo Vice may be a textbook about bad people who have done terrible deeds but it's also a textbook about good a person who have fought hard and strove to make a difference and that alone makes it worth a read. I have rented this textbook from ecampus, it was in a great condition and delivered in the estimated time, it's also a cheap textbook. Highly recommended.
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Tokyo Vice: 5 out of 5 stars based on 1 user reviews.

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