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

Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Oct 07, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: japan, non-fiction

I have to say that I really enjoyed Jake Adelstein’s memoir about crime reporting in Japan, Tokyo Vice, for a number of reasons. To start with it provides an insider’s view of what it’s like to be a reporter and how the journalism machine in Japan operates. This insider’s view reminds me of Masao Miyamoto’s descriptions of being a government employee in The Straitjacket Society. It seems both jobs require arcane knowledge earned through experience and insider mentoring, long hours, bullying, and a very unhealthy lifestyle that is heavy on smoking and drinking. In addition, Adelestein started out in the Saitama news bureau office in Urawa and I started out living in Japan in Eastern Saitama and know or have been to many of the places where he reports crime and murders take place. Adelstein also has a lot of insight into the particulars of Japanese culture and society, from mizushobai (sex industry which includes hostess and host clubs) to yakuza and police. His explanations of how the police operate and the ambiguity of the law when regarding issues like prostitution, sex trafficking, and child pornography make it troublesome to enforce. It wasn’t until Japan started getting national attention as a haven for sex trafficking that they created laws to stop it. This s a common occurrence being spurred to change by international pressure-it’s much easier to carry on with status quo. Family law that encourages child abduction is likely to continue until enough foreign pressure has been applied on the Japanese government. Furthermore, he spends a chapter on the significance of instruction manuals in Japanese society explaining there are manuals for everything from sex to suicide, at least the ratio is 3 to 1 in the top 10 sellers on Amazon Japan. I also found it interesting that he was at the forefront of crime trends that I remember reading about as they emerged over the years: host clubs that targeted teenage girls that ran up thousands of dollars of bills. Then there was the loan sharking trends that drove many to suicide with the sky-high interest rates-these spawned the “it’s me” scam where people called old people and claimed to be relative by saying “it’s me” and having them transfer money to their bank account. I think it has a kind of hardboiled style to the narration and a fairly quick pace. I look forward to reading his subsequent books he has planned on other aspects of crime and Japanese society.

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Tokyo Vice.
Sign In »

No comments have been added yet.