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Tokyo Noir : In and out of Japan's underworld - Jake Adelstein

Tokyo Noir

In and out of Japan's underworld

By: Jake Adelstein

Paperback | 14 May 2024

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A darkly comic sequel to Tokyo Vice that is equal parts history lesson, true-crime expose, and memoir.

It's 2008, and it's been a while since Jake Adelstein was the only gaijin crime reporter for the Yomiuri Shimbun. The global economy is in shambles, Jake is off the police beat but still chain-smoking clove cigarettes, and Tadamasa Goto, the most powerful boss in the Japanese organised-crime world, has been banished from the yakuza, giving Adelstein one less enemy to worry about - for the time being. But as he puts his life back together, he discovers that he may be no match for his greatest enemy - himself.

And Adelstein has a different gig these days- due-diligence work, or using his investigative skills to dig up information on entities whose bosses would prefer that some things stay hidden.

The underworld isn't what it used to be. Underneath layers of paperwork, corporations are thinly veiled fronts for the yakuza. Pachinko parlours are a hidden battleground between disenfranchised Japanese Koreans and North Korean extortion plots. TEPCO, the electric power corporation keeping the lights on for all of Tokyo, scrambles to hide its willful oversights that ultimately led to the 2011 Fukushima meltdown. And the Japanese government shows levels of corruption that make the yakuza look like philanthropists in comparison. All this is punctuated by personal tragedies no one could have seen coming.

In this ambitious and riveting work, Jake Adelstein explores what it's like when you're in too deep to distinguish the story you chase from the life you live.


Praise for The Last Yakuza-

'Journalist Adelstein parlays decades of reporting on Japanese organised crime into a propulsive history of the yakuza. Drawing on interviews with both his yakuza and Japanese law enforcement contacts, he examines how yakuza groups obtained power ... He's especially good at tracing the yakuza's political influence in Japan, explaining how they bribed and blackmailed legislators into opposing bills that would have curbed their influence. Painstakingly reported and paced like a thriller, this is a must read for anyone interested in organised crime.'
-Publishers Weekly


Praise for Tokyo Vice-

'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 ... Adelstein doesn't lack for self-confidence ... but beneath the bravado are a big heart and a relentless drive for justice.'
-Carlo Wolff, The Boston Globe

' Adelstein's juicy and vividly detailed account of investigations into the shadowy side of Japan shows him to be more enterprising, determined, and crazy than most ... Adelstein builds his stories with as much surprise and grit as any Al Pacino or Mark Wahlberg movie, blurring the lines between the cops, the crooks, and even the journalists ... Tokyo Vice is often so snappy and quotable that it sounds as if it were a treatment for a Scorsese movie set in Queens ... E ven as he is getting slapped around by thugs and placed under police protection, Adelstein never loses his gift for crisp storytelling and an unexpectedly earnest eagerness to try to rescue the damned.'
-Pico Iyer, Time

'In this dark, often humorous journey through the underworld of Tokyo, Jake Adelstein captures exactly what it means to be a gaijin and a reporter. Whether he is hunting for tips in Kabukicho or pressing yakuza for information, it is an adventure only he could write. For anyone interested in Japan or journalism, this is a must read.'
-Robert Whiting, author of Tokyo Underworld

About the Author

Jake Adelstein has been an investigative journalist in Japan since 1993, reporting in both Japanese and English. From 2006 to 2007 he was the chief investigator for a US State Department-sponsored study of human trafficking in Japan. He has been writing for The Daily Beast, The Japan Times, and other publications since 2011, and was a special correspondent for The Los Angeles Times. Considered one of the foremost experts on organised crime in Japan, he works as a writer and consultant in Japan and the United States. He co-hosted and co-wrote the award-winning podcast about missing people in Nippon, The Evaporated- gone with the gods in 2023. He is the author of Tokyo Vice- a western reporter on the police beat in Japan, which is now a series on HBO Max, and also The Last Yakuza- life and death in the Japanese underworld (2023). He has appeared on CNN, NPR, the BBC, France 24, and other media outlets as a commentator on social issues in Japan, as well as its criminal justice system, politics, and nuclear industry giant, TEPCO.

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