Thursday, October 22, 2009

Reading Tokyo Vice

And now for something completely different.  Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan

I'm reading Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein.  If you're interested in Japan or investigative journalism or organized crime or those who fight it, you might want to check this one out.  Adelstein is an American journalist who spent years in Japan reporting on crime.  Needless to say, in an insular place like Japan, this opportunity is kind of rare. 

The prelude section starts out with the yakuza threatening the author's life.  I'm particularly proud of the fact that I realized this particular organization is the one based out of the capital city of the prefecture my sister taught English in while she was living in Japan.  She didn't recommend visiting that area when we went to see her.  (She didn't want us to become statistics, and there were plenty of other wonderful places to visit that weren't infested with yakuza.)

Knowing that the author survives gives the book its own kind of tension.  Does he pursue this story mentioned in the prelude?  How does he not get killed?  What led him there?  What led him to later combat human trafficking? 

I've been interested in the topic of the justice system and the Japanese underworld pretty much since I read my first manga touching on it maybe six years ago.  I am intrigued by the lens Adelstein provides the opportunity to look through, and I'm looking forward to the insights into culture, justice systems, and humanity I gain through the book.  I just hope it doesn't get too gritty . . .

Do you know of any good nonfiction books about aspects of Japanese culture?  Do recommend.

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