Jennifer Lavoie's Reviews > Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan

Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein
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's review
Jan 13, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: nonfiction, person-library, crime, books-to-read-over-and-over, multicultural, japan
Read from January 10 to 13, 2011

I debated giving this a 4 or 5 star rating, but ending up going with the 5 because my one little dislike couldn't outweigh everything else that impressed me with this book.

I can count on one hand the number of times I have been able to sit and read a nonfiction book straight through without putting it down and reading some fiction in between chapters. This is one of those books. It held my interest not just because it is about a country I am very interested in, but because the writing was excellent. I felt as if I knew the author by the end of the book.

It was also incredibly valuable in terms of information not just on reporters and the process, but the Japanese subcultures and yakuza. Half the time I wondered if Adelstein was actually a cop posing as a reporter because of what he had to do to get his information. I had no idea being a reporter - at least in Japan - involved so much work! It was if the men and women were actually police on the side. The lengths they have to go to to get information is incredible. And despite everything that happens to them, they keep their sources safe.

There were also things I learned about the Japanese that both impressed and horrified me. I had read a book before on an older yakuza boss, and it seemed to me that while they were essentially criminals, they were still honorable people. It seems like that system of honor is changing, based on what I read here. However, there are still those that are good, as Adelstein says. I was also horrified with the way foreign women who were basically kidnapped and forced to work as sex slaves had no rights when it came to the Japanese police. Even though they were victims, they were treated as the ones at fault because they were breaking a law by "working withouth the proper visa." But they were forced into it! Unbelievable. What a horrifying situation for anyone to be in.

Despite all this, though, there were times when I cried, such as when Sekiguchi died, and Helena spoke of her ex-fiance's betrayal. I really felt for the author.

The one aspect of the book that I did not like was that it seemed to jump around in time, and it took me a while to realize when I was. At one point the author is in one place, and he starts the next section saying he has been married for three years. I was confused and thought I had missed something important. And while his daughter's birth was announced, his son seemed to be a sidenote later on. I wish it had been more clear as to when things were going on, but overall the book was an excellent read that kept my attention.

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Reading Progress

01/10/2011 page 87
01/12/2011 page 263
75.0% "Some of the things I'm reading in the later part of this book are making me angry... I can't believe these poor women are victimized and then treated as if they're criminals. Horrible! I had no idea..."
01/12/2011 page 294
84.0% "Okay, now the book made me cry when Sekiguchi died... I think the worst part about it was him not going to the funeral."
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