Tokyo Vice: A Western Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan

Jake Adelstein

Tokyo Vice: A Western Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan
Scribe Publications
27 January 2010

Tokyo Vice: A Western Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan

Jake Adelstein

Now a hit new HBO Max TV series starring Ansel Elgort, Ken Watanabe & Rachel Keller

From the only American journalist ever to have been admitted to the insular Tokyo Metropolitan Police Press Club, here is a unique, firsthand, revelatory look at Japanese culture from the underbelly up.

At the age of 19, Jake Adelstein went to Japan in search of peace and tranquillity. What he got was a life of crime … crime reporting, that is, at the prestigious Yomiuri Shimbun. 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 with the threat of death for him and his family - Adelstein decided to step down … momentarily. Then, he fought back.

In Tokyo Vice, Adelstein tells the riveting, often humorous tale of his transformation from an inexperienced cub reporter to a daring investigative journalist with a price on his head. With its vivid, visceral descriptions of crime in Japan and candid 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.

‘Tokyo Vice is about Japanese subculture. Adelstein instructs us in the vagaries of Japanese journalism and provides a gamy, colourful tour of the morally flexible areas of Japan, particularly in Tokyo. He also shows how Japanese police work and interact with journalists. Adelstein shares juicy, salty, and occasionally funny anecdotes, but many are frightening.’ -Carlo Wolff, The Boston Globe

‘Tokyo Vice is the American’s 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 commercialised depravity of Shinjuku’s adult entertainment zone , Kabukicho. Adelstein, the morbidly curious observer, presents his stories with a newsman’s objectivity, using self-deprecatory humour, pathos and occasional horror. He does not refrain from harsh criticism, but his writing never condescends … It is a classic piece of 20th-century crime reporting.’ -Mark Shrieber, The Japan Times

‘Tokyo Vice leaps recklessly into this seamy underworld, recounting with verve Adelstein’s increasingly perilous investigations. The result is hard-boiled memoir- thrilling, pacy and wise-cracking, but never far from the clammy grip of fear.’ -Financial Times

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