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Tokyo Vice
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Tokyo Vice [Format Kindle]

Jake Adelstein

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Descriptions du produit



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 the Yomiuri 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.

The Yomiuri Shinbun has the largest circulation—more than ten million a day—of any newspaper in Japan and, in fact, the world. The Asahi Shinbun used to be a close second—now it’s less close but still second. People used to say that the Yomiuri was 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 the Mainichi 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 considered to be the voice of the extreme right; some said it had about as much credibility as a supermarket tabloid. Often, it had some good scoops as well.

Kyodo, the wire service, which is the Associated Press of Japan, was harder to figure out. The service was originally known as Domei and was the official propaganda branch of the World War II–era Japanese government. Not all connections were severed when the firm became independent once the war was over. Furthermore, Dentsu, the largest and most powerful advertising agency in Japan (and the world) has a controlling interest in the company, and that can color its coverage. One thing makes Kyodo a stellar news agency to work for, however: its labor union, which is the envy of every reporter in Japan. The union makes sure that its reporters are able to use the vacation days due them—something very rare at most firms in Japan.

There is also Jiji Press, which is kind of like Kyodo’s little brother but a hard worker. It has a smaller readership and fewer reporters. The joke was that Jiji reporters write their articles after reading Kyodo—a cruel joke in a cruel industry.

At first I was leaning toward the Asahi, but I started to feel offended by its tendency to put the United States in a bad light at every opportunity. It seemed at odds with the image I thought most people in Japan had of America—as a voice of democracy, spreading liberty and justice throughout the free world.

The editorials of the Yomiuri were pretty tough-going, though, very conservative and heavy on kanji (the original Chinese ideographs) and vagueness, but the articles in the national news section really impressed me. At a time when the term “human trafficking” had yet to enter the popular vocabulary, the Yomiuri ran a scathing in-depth series on the plight of Thai women being smuggled into Japan as sex workers. The articles treated the women with relative dignity and, if only mildly, was critical of the police for its do-little response to the problem. The paper’s stance, it seemed to me, was firmly on the side of the oppressed; it was fighting for justice.

The Asahi and the Yomiuri had their exams scheduled on the same day. I signed up for the Yomiuri’s.

The exam was part of the Yomiuri Shinbun Journalism Seminar, a well-known covert method of hiring people before the official job-hunting season begins. It helps them grab the cream of the crop. It’s not promoted in a big way, so if you are serious about joining the Yomiuri, you must read the paper religiously, or you will miss the golden ticket. Everyone at the university paper who had aspirations of being a Yomiuri reporter was checking the paper’s pages. In a country where appearances count, I needed to look respectable. I poked through my closet only to discover that the humid summer had turned my two suits into fungal experiments. So I trotted down to a huge discount men’s retailer and bought a summer suit for the equivalent of about $300. It was made of a thin fabric that breathed easily and had a nice matte black finish. I looked good in it.

I wanted to wow Inukai, my friend and the editor of the school paper, with my sartorial finesse, but when I showed up at the office, located in a dark, dungeonlike basement, his response was different from what I’d expected.

“Jake-kun, my condolences.”

Aoyama-chan, another colleague, looked pensive. She didn’t say a word.

I couldn’t figure out what was going on.

“What happened? Was it a friend?”

“A friend?”

“Who died?”

“Huh? Nobody died. Everybody I know is fine.”

Inukai took off his glasses and polished them with his shirt. “So you bought that suit yourself?”

“Yep. Thirty thousand yen.”

Inukai was enjoying this. I could tell because he was squinting like a happy puppy. “What kind of suit did you want to buy?” he asked, all false seriousness.

“The ad said reifuku.”

Aoyama-chan tittered.

“What?” I said. “What’s wrong?”

“You idiot! You bought a funeral suit! Not a reifuku but a mofuku!

“What’s the difference?”

“Mofuku are black. Nobody wears a black suit to a job interview.”


“Well, maybe a yakuza.”

“Well, could I pretend I just got back from a funeral? Maybe I’d get sympathy points.”

“That’s true. People sympathize with the mentally challenged.”

Aoyama chimed in, “Maybe you could apply to be a yakuza instead! They wear black! You could be the first gaijin yakuza!”

“He’s not cut out to be a yakuza,” Inukai said. “And what would he do when they threw him out?”

“That’s true,” Aoyama said, nodding. “If it didn’t work out, he’d have a hard time going back to being a writer. It’s hard to type with only nine fingers.”

By now Inukai was on a roll. “I don’t think he could get out of the organization with nine fingers. Eight is more like it. He’s a classic screw-up, rude, clumsy, never on time. A barbarian.”

“I can see that,” Aoyama said. “Actually, he could still hunt and peck. But in terms of a career, I don’t think yakuza is it for him, even if he does look nice in a black suit.”

“So what am I supposed to do?”

“Buy another suit,” they said in unison.

“I don’t have the cash.”

Inukai looked thoughtful. “Hmmm. Maybe you can get away with it because you’re a gaijin. Maybe someone will think it’s cute . . . if they don’t just decide you’re an idiot.”

So that’s what I did.

Funeral suit and all, on May 7, I dragged ...

Revue de presse

“Groundbreaking reporting on the yakuza. . . . 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.”--The Boston Globe 

 “Gripping. . . . [Adelstein’s] vividly detailed account of investigations into the shadowy side of Japan shows him to be more enterprising, determined and crazy than most. . . . In some of the freshest pages of the book, our unlikely hero tells us about his initiation into the seamy, tough-guy Japan beneath the public courtesies,. . . . 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. Yet the facts beneath the noirish lines are assembled with what looks to be ferocious diligence and resourcefulness. For even 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

"A journalist's memoir unlike any I've ever read."--Dave Davies, Fresh Air
“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
Tokyo Vice succeeds on several levels: as gripping journalism, as a ragged crime tale, as culture-shock memoir. Stakes are raised in its third act as the yakuza exercise increasing pressure on Adelstein, but he pursues the story anyway. Obviously, he lived to tell his tale — and thank goodness, because it’s a fascinating one.” —BOOKGASM
“Engrossing. . . . fast-paced.”—The Atlanta-Journal Constitution

“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

"[A] gripping story. . . . Pulls the curtain back on a sordid element of Japanese society that few Westerners ever see. In addition to his clash with [a] yakuza boss, Adelstein details the more notable cases from his 12-year career at the Yomiuri, including "The Chichibu Snack-mama Murder Case" and "The Emperor of Loan Sharks." No less fascinating is the view Adelstein provides into Japanese society itself. . . . Adelstein's Tokyo is a veritable Gomorrah where nearly every act of intimacy is legally bought and sold."—San Francisco Examiner

"Debut author Adelstein began with a routine, but never dull, police beat; before long, he was notorious worldwide for engaging the dirtiest, top-most villains of Japan's organized criminal underworld, the yakuza. Thanks to [Adelstein's] immersive reporting, readers suffer with him through the choice between personal safety and a chance to confront the evil inhabiting his city. . . . Adelstein also examines the investigative reporter's tendency to withdraw into cynicism ("when a reporter starts to cool down, it's very hard… ever to warm up again") but faithfully sidesteps that urge, producing a deeply thought-provoking book: equal parts cultural exposé, true crime, and hard-boiled noir."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Not just a hard-boiled true-crime thriller, but an engrossing, troubling look at crime and human exploitation in Japan."—Kirkus

"Terrific. With gallows humor and a hardboiled voice, Adelstein takes readers on a shadow journey through the Japanese underworld and examines the twisted relationships of journalists, cops, and gangsters. Expertly told and highly entertaining."—George Pelecanos

"Sacred, ferocious and businesslike. This is the Japanese mafia that Adelstein describes like nobody else." —Roberto Saviano, author of Gomorrah: A Personal Journey into the Violent International Empire of Naples' Organized Crime System

"A gripping and absorbing read. Very few foreigners ever come close to discovering what's really going on in Japan's closed society. Adelstein chases two major stories that pull him into a vortex of destruction, threatening his friendships, his marriage and even his life. As he battles with profound issues concerning truth and trust, Tokyo Vice approaches a heart-pounding denouement. This is a terrifying, deeply moral story which you cannot put down, and Adelstein, if occasionally reckless, is an extremely courageous man."—Misha Glenny, author of McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld

"A tale of a gaijin who stumbled onto a story so important and so dangerous that it put his life at risk. A yakuza offered him half a million dollars not to tell it. He wrote this book instead." —Peter Hessler, author of River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze

"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: The Fast Times and Hard Life of an American Gangster in Japan

"Anyone interested in tattooed yakuza, 'soapland' brothels, and the various other aspects of Japan's lurid underbelly is guaranteed to be electrified by Tokyo Vice. Why is a manual on the perfect way to commit suicide a Japanese bestseller? Who goes to sexual harassment clinics? What's it like to spend a night in a male hostess bar? Tokyo Vice reveals all this and more. It's a story of lust and profit; a chronicle of fear and determination; most of all, a modern bildungsroman that simultaneously illuminates the soul of its narrator and that of modern Japan through the underside of Tokyo, the world's most fascinating city. I loved this book for many reasons—its humor, its pathos, its insight, its honesty—and maybe most of all, for reminding me of how lucky I am to live here."—Barry Eisler, author of Fault Line

"Jake Adelstein's razor straight reporting from the mean streets of Tokyo is a coming of age story that reveals more than it pretends to—because he has the guts to find the truth, and the gall to tell it."—Roland Kelts, author of Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S.

"Vivid, insightful, and totally revealing of the decadent, seedy and sexual parts of Japanese society, Tokyo Vice is ripping fun."—Karl Taro Greenfeld, author of Speed Tribes: Days and Nights with Japan's Next Generation

"Jake Adelstein writes in the classic hard-boiled Dashiell Hammett manner—complete with stubbed out cigarettes and a shot of whiskey shared with his cop informant—but this is not San Francisco or New York, it's Tokyo, and it's not fiction.  Those who live and work in Japan will recognize reality on every page.  It's at times a harsh and ugly reality, but depicted humorously with whimsical details of Japan's twilight world that we only dreamt of. A guaranteed page-turner." —Alex Kerr, author of Dogs and Demons: Tales from the Dark Side of Japan

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 686 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 404 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 1849014647
  • Editeur : Constable (7 septembre 2010)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B0042RU4EY
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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98 internautes sur 102 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 The nail that sticks up, gets hammered down... 30 octobre 2009
Par S. McGee - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Or, in Jake Adelstein's case, it doesn't -- thankfully, because American readers now finally have access to a book that chronicles the real Japan, free of stereotypes and even more well-rounded and nuanced as any of the 'foreigner abroad' books we are accustomed to reading from Americans who head off to the more culturally-familiar terrain of Europe.

Full disclosure: I lived in Tokyo for parts of early 80s before finally leaving in 1985, before Adelstein arrived to study at Sophia University. Like him, I began my journalistic career there, although it was as a copy editor at the English-language Japan Times rather than as a reporter for a Japanese daily. Even in 1985, being a 'gaijin' (foreigner) and a female would have put paid to any such plans, even if my decidedly unfluent Japanese hadn't. Adelstein, however, benefited from the passage of time, his language skills and his gender and landed a job at the Yomiuri newspaper, one of the country's largest. Automatically an unusual person in Japan's extraordinarily homogenous society (at the time I lived there, at least, there was no space on a driver's license for hair or eye color -- because it was assumed that all would be the same...), Adelstein ended up covering another kind group of misfits in Japan: the country's yakuza, or organized criminals.

It's a fascinating world, part of Japanese popular culture as much as the Mafia is here, and yet virtually unrecognized outside of the country. Along with writing about the yakuza, Adelstein does a fabulous job of raising the curtain on the lives of ordinary Japanese, finally debunking all the stereotypes. Japanese men gawk at the pictures in Madonna's "Sex"; the male reporters openly read porn magazines in the workspace. Social life revolves around getting drunk; the job of a police reporter like Adelstein includes paying evening calls to the homes of his detective friends. Adelstein shows how phenomena like the hostess clubs are fueled by "alienation, boredom and loneliness."

That said, this is a very uneven book. The first half, in particular, seems to be the story of a foreigner who gets himself a job at a Japanese newspaper, thinks to himself, "wow, this is cool and different and maybe I'll write a book about it, too, because not many people have done what I've done." The glimpse behind the scenes of a Japanese newspaper were interesting enough, but after a while the long paragraphs, one after another, of people talking became wearying. So did Adelstein's self-congratulatory air: Getting words of praise from a colleague is "a good feeling"; another story is "a nice little scoop", or "our investigative reporting had the gratifying result of spurring the Saitama police into arresting the people responsible for the bank failure." Yawn. And I could have done without the insights into his sex life, as when he leaves his 'girlfriend' hanging on in the love hotel room they have rented by the hour in order to deal with an editor. "Honorable me, I knew I owed her. So I turned my beeper off for the first time in months." At times, he sounds almost smug.

And yet, just as I was about to give up on the book, it took off and turned into an extraordinary chronicle, revealing in the process an entirely different narrator, someone passionate and thoughtful enough about the world he sees around him to be willing to stand up and be counted. He becomes the nail that sticks up and must be hammered down, in the Japanese saying used of people who place their independent thoughts above smooth social relationships. And the people who wanted to do the hammering were Japan's yakuza, as Adelstein's beat takes him into an investigation of sexual slavery and abuse in Japan's hostess bars, 'soaplands' and brothels. What had been almost flippant before (see Jake Adelstein as a male host!) becomes deadly serious, and I ended up reading late into the night to discover what happened, just as I would have done with a great thriller. The catch, of course, is that the crimes and abuses committed by the yakuza, for which the police are unable or unwilling to prosecute them, were and remain real. Adelstein points out the difficulty of prosecuting human trafficking offenses in a country where the victims are promptly deported -- and then the police and law enforcement officials point out that they have no complaining witnesses! He points to the impact of the casual racism and sexism on law enforcement, from attitudes to Koreans of Japanese descent to the women who arrive in Japan to work as hostesses. And ultimately, he puts his life on the line -- literally -- in an effort to expose some of these abuses.

The heroes of Adelstein's book come from across the board -- this is not smart gaijin hero versus thick-witted racist Japanese, or evil Yakuza versus courageous journalists. Some of the most poignant and heartfelt parts of this ultimately very moving book are those devoted to one of his closest friends, a Japanese police detective, and to an Australian bar girl who becomes a friend of sorts. And ultimately Adelstein sheds that self-satisfied foreigner abroad persona, recognizing that his all-too-human failures as a person and a reporter meant that "I'd endangered every person I cared about, liked, loved, or simply knew. (They had become) potential leverage for (the yakuza target of his investigations) who had no qualms about using people like cannon fodder." It's a cry from the heart, and the story of Adelstein's investigations and efforts to get his worked published make this book a 'must read'.

I'd like to think that the Japanese fascination with what other nations think about them would mean that this book will be translated into Japanese and have a wide audience there. Given the difficulty Adelstein had in finding a Japanese publisher for his journalistic scoops about the yakuza's worst crimes, I'm not sure it will happen. Moreover, the home truths that Adelstein tells -- from a position inside Japanese society, not from the usual gaijin perspective of having one foot in Tokyo's expat community -- about everything from the ugly realities underlying the hostess bar culture and the treatment of a female fellow reporter and friend at the Yomiuri, to the horrors of human trafficking, may prove hard for them to digest. In any event, it's a fascinating read that I'd recommend to anyone with an interest in Japan or thinking of going to live or work there.

A few other recommendations: For more insight into the dysfunctional part of Japanese society (if not the criminal element), try Shutting Out the Sun: How Japan Created Its Own Lost Generation (Vintage Departures) or Alex Kerr's Dogs and Demons: Tales from the Dark Side of Japan. Some dark comedy and brilliant film-making comes from Juzo Itami, who, it appears, may have been murdered by yakuza rather than committing suicide. Many probably are familiar with Tampopo; just as good, IMO, is A Taxing Woman; the sequel, A Taxing Woman's Return, is still available only on VHS. Both are great and hilarious examples of a crusading tax inspector battling her own bureaucracy and the criminal elements who happen to be evading their taxes. I can't recommend either film strongly enough.
118 internautes sur 129 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Imagine you're at a bar... 13 octobre 2009
Par C. Yu - Publié sur
with a pitcher of beer, sort of watching the game. A novelist and a reporter sit down on either side of you. They want to make you a deal: they get to have some of your beer and in exchange, each of them will take turns telling you incredibly good stories.

At first you're a little worried because, well, who are these guys drinking your beer?

Within a couple minutes, you are not worried anymore. You are ordering another pitcher. And then another one. These guys are two of the best storytellers you've ever met, and the drunker they get, the more they appear to be trying to outdo each other. The stories they are telling you are as engaging as they are strange and unbelievable.

Now imagine that both of these guys, the novelist and the reporter, are actually the same guy, and the stories they are telling are all true. That's what reading this book is like.

The subject matter is the obvious initial draw to this book. Mr. Adelstein's relays his years of experience as a reporter for the Yomiuri Shinbun with efficiency, clarity and wit, while at the same time managing to convey some of the structure and texture of a number of complex institutions and sub-cultures (the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, other prefectural police departments in Japan, crime reporters for the Yomiuri and, of course, the yakuza).

Beyond the fascinating subject matter, however, I could and would and will recommend this book solely for the quality of writing. Mr. Adelstein works expertly at the level of the sentence and the vignette. He doesn't accumulate detail, but instead precisely curates it, giving just enough to put you right there with him. Any less detail and the narrative would be flat, lifeless. Any more detail would drag it down, make it feel like a reading assignment. Instead, Mr. Adelstein's prose has a tactile quality to it. It is measured and balanced and paced in such a way that you live the story with him. I would buy this storyteller an ongoing supply of beer just to keep listening to him tell stories.
61 internautes sur 69 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 holy japan! 13 octobre 2009
Par Michael Spalding - Publié sur
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book -- most stories about Westerners moving to Japan are simple, ego-driven pieces of "finding yourself" trash.

I gotta say, though, that Tokyo Vice, while it might have fallen into this category, DOESN'T. Jake Adelstein knows his stuff, and the audience can figure that out in the first lines. This is no "ohmygosh-Japan-is-different-because-everyone-is-ASIAN-and-speaks-JAPANESE!" Instead, this is layer upon layer of real information, texture that I don't think anyone could pick up unless they were actually immersed in a culture, and written from a place far past the wide-eyed excitement of a first-time visitor.

The book has an interesting, engaging narrative, that stands on its own even without all the depth of knowledge the author brings. And, though the subject seems like it's straight out of fiction, it's not. I know more about the Japanese newspaper industry, the Tokyo Police Department, and the seedier aspects of life in Japan now than I ever have. And that's saying something.

Frankly, this book could have been a piece of garden variety, semi-racist, often lurid, pulp fiction. Instead, it's a thoughtful look back on an experience no one else on this earth has had.

Read it.
37 internautes sur 42 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Remarkable story, imperfect book 31 janvier 2010
Par Doctor.Generosity - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Japan is not entirely the land of Zen gardens and precision cameras as most Americans born after WWII tend to believe. It is a nation with a major dark side, openly racist and sexist, with a wide public tolerance of perversions such as child pornography. Japanese 'salarymen' in suits stand on their lunch hour reading comic books about teenage schoolgirls. This is also the country that was equalled only by Nazi Germany in their wartime cruelties against civilians and prisoners. But the Japanese above all believe in social cohesion, and these regrettable parts of human behavior are regarded as inevitable, so why not provide for them in a socially integrated way? Thus it is not surprising that organized crime is considered just another part of daily life, with office buildings and business cards (!) for the so-called yakuza.

Tokyo Vice is the autobiographical story of Jake Adelstein, a middle-class boy from the American Midwest who grew up attracted to Japanese culture and language, and how he learned about all this first hand. Adelstein relocated to Japan in his teens to study Buddhism and go to college, and stayed. Amazingly, he eventually managed to be hired as a reporter for the largest Japanese daily newspaper, writing and working entirely in the Japanese language for twelve years. He served on the crime beat, becoming an expert on the seamy underside of Japanese life.

Eventually however, Adelstein went beyond his objective reporter role and stood up as an advocate and crusader, especially on behalf of foreign women whom he discovered being trafficked into sexual slavery in Japan. He was appalled to find that these crimes were ignored by the Japanese establishment; the victims were women, prostitutes and foreigners and therefore triply of no importance. This also led him to understand how organized crime works in Japan, including evidence of corruption at high levels in the government.

His crusade has had some effect; through investigative journalism and contacts with the US government he eventually shamed Japan into beginning to respond to these problems. Also Adelstein uncovered the story of top yakuza who found ways to receive needed liver transplants at American hospitals ahead of long waiting lists - an investigation which led to him and his family receiving serious death threats.

It's not a pretty story. The most upsetting episode concerns a beautiful Australian woman working as a prostitute in Tokyo who became a close friend and informant of Adelstein. When she attempted to help him investigate the trafficking, she disappeared - with credible evidence she was tortured to death by the yakusa. The book is about fairly recent events so we cannot expect the full story. Nevertheless it disturbed me that Adelstein seems not to fully accept that this was the direct result of his association with her.

A riveting story but not well written. There are tedious dialogs, off sentences, many cliches. Puzzling because Adelstein is a professional writer; in May of 2008 he published a straightforward essay in the Washington Post (still on the Internet) summarizing the story succintly. But this book length version has been turned into something like a Mickey Spillane novel-noir, with way too many tedious conversations with Japanese cops smoking way too many cigarettes. Perhaps the author received some bad advice from his publisher and editors, who wanted him to jazz up his account with more 'vivid' personalities? I also would have appreciated more in the way of third party context - quotes from the Japanese newspaper articles or government documentation which would show some reality besides the author's.

Finally, Adelstein has a peculiar, almost coy attitude in writing about one key element - himself. Even though his personal life is intertwined with the story at every level, he leaves out more than he tells. He marries a Japanese woman but does not talk about her or how they met. He becomes personally involved with his informants but does not explain. It is understandable for him to protect his sources, but I liked it less when he seemed to be protecting himself.

Bottom line: A gripping insight into contemporary Japan. One must admire Adelstein for his courage in acting on his outrage and for his ongoing campaign to shine a light on abuses in Japanese society. But the book could have been more cleanly written and the author could have been more open about his personal saga.
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 where it all began 25 octobre 2009
Par Willa Adelstein - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Jakes ability to express himself is a rare gift that few are given. He often mentioned that grace and agility did not come naturally. As a freshman in college in the midwest, he fell two stories down an open elevator shaft.
This resulted in a few injured bones and a mild concussion. The result was a loss of short term memory. At the time he was enrolled in Japanese at the University of Missouri. His Japanese memory was gone,but soon recovered with the help of a tutor.
Tokyo Vice, not only explains how he was able to learn to read,write,and speak Japanese, but to use it as a reporter. Although somewhat biased, it was hard to put down the book. His personal stories and reporting revealed things that even a mother doesnt want to know.
Jakes mother
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