Tokyo Vice

Tokyo Vice is a memoir by Jake Adelstein, a former journalist who covered crime and the underbelly of Tokyo for over a decade. The book explores the dark and dangerous world of the yakuza, Japan’s organized crime syndicate, and offers a fascinating insight into Japanese society and culture.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part focuses on Adelstein’s experiences as a police reporter for the Yomiuri Shimbun, one of Japan’s largest newspapers. Recounting his interactions with the police, the yakuza, and other criminals, he provides a vivid and often shocking portrait of the crime and corruption he witnessed.


One of the most compelling aspects of the book is Adelstein’s portrayal of the Yakuza. It describes its history, structure, and code of conduct, and provides a detailed account of its activities, including extortion, prostitution, and drug trafficking. Adelstein also explores the complex relationship between the yakuza and Japanese society, showing how gangsters are feared and respected.


The second part of the book focuses on Adelstein’s investigation into the murder of a young woman named Lucie Blackman. Blackman was a British national who came to Japan to work as a hostess, a job often associated with the sex industry. He disappeared in 2000 and his dismembered remains were later found buried in a remote area outside of Tokyo.


Adelstein’s investigation into the Blackman murder is gripping and harrowing. He details his interactions with Blackman’s family, the difficulties he faced trying to uncover the truth, and the toll the investigation was taking on his own mental health. The book also examines the broader issue of human trafficking and the exploitation of women in the Japanese sex industry.


Overall, Tokyo Vice is an engaging and thought provoking book. Adelstein’s writing is engaging and accessible, and he does an excellent job of balancing the personal and the political. The book offers a fascinating insight into Japanese society and culture, and offers a sobering reminder of the dark and dangerous world that exists beneath the surface.


One of the strengths of the book is its honesty. Adelstein is not afraid to describe his own mistakes and weaknesses and is open about the mistakes he made during his time in Japan. This makes the book even more powerful as it allows the reader to empathize with Adelstein and understand the challenges he faced.


Another strength of the book is the description of Japan. Adelstein obviously has a deep affection for the country and its people, but is not afraid to criticize aspects of Japanese society that he finds problematic. This nuanced portrayal of Japan makes the book even more interesting as it allows the reader to see the country in a more complex and nuanced way.

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