By Jake Adelstein
This grim and gritty exposé on the Tokyo underworld will show you that there’s much more to Japan than sumo, sushi and Hello Kitty. Written by Jake Adelstein, an American fluent in Japanese who spent 12 years working as a crime reporter for a leading Japanese daily newspaper, we get to see the dark side of Japan.
Following the exploits of the Yakuza (the Japanese mafia), Adelstein explores an underworld of murders, prostitution and human trafficking – a Japan that few people realise exists. Both fascinating and disturbing in parts, we learn how entwined organised crime is in Japan, how the Yakuza are viewed by the public (there are Yakuza fan magazines), and how they operate as legal entities – with registered offices and some members even having business cards.
By getting so close to his subjects and regularly meeting high ranking Tokyo police officers, sex workers and various members of the Yakuza, the author treads a dangerous path. By the end of his stay, the threat to his life was so great that he had to employ a bodyguard – who was of course, a heavily tattooed former Yakuza member.
Overall, Tokyo Vice is a truly fascinating read for anyone interested in Japan, the mafia or crime. But beware; you’ll never see the Land of the Rising Sun in the same light again.
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