The Last Yakuza: Life and Death in the Japanese Underworld


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$22.00  $20.46
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5.9 X 9.1 X 1.3 inches | 1.1 pounds

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About the Author

Jake Adelstein has been an investigative journalist in Japan since 1993, reporting in both Japanese and English. From 2006 to 2007 he was the chief investigator for a US State Department-sponsored study of human trafficking in Japan. He has been writing for The Daily Beast, The Japan Times, and other publications since 2011, and was a special correspondent for The Los Angeles Times. Considered one of the foremost experts on organized crime in Japan, he works as a writer and consultant in Japan and the United States. He co-hosted and co-wrote the award-winning podcast about missing people in Nippon, The Evaporated: Gone with the Gods in 2023. He is the author of Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan (Vintage), which is now a series on HBO Max, and also The Last Yakuza: Life and Death in the Japanese Underworld (2023). He has appeared on CNN, NPR, the BBC, France 24, and other media outlets as a commentator on social issues in Japan, as well as its criminal justice system, politics, and nuclear industry giant, TEPCO.


"Journalist Adelstein parlays decades of reporting on Japanese organized crime into a propulsive history of the yakuza. Drawing on interviews with both his yakuza and Japanese law enforcement contacts, he examines how yakuza groups obtained power ... He's especially good at tracing the yakuza's political influence in Japan, explaining how they bribed and blackmailed legislators into opposing bills that would have curbed their influence. Painstakingly reported and paced like a thriller, this is a must read for anyone interested in organized crime."
--Publishers Weekly

Praise for Tokyo Vice:

"Tokyo Vice is about Japanese subculture. Adelstein instructs us in the vagaries of Japanese journalism and provides a gamy, colourful tour of the morally flexible areas of Japan, particularly in Tokyo. He also shows how Japanese police work and interact with journalists. 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."
--Carlo Wolff, The Boston Globe

Praise for Tokyo Vice:

"[Adelstein's] juicy and vividly detailed account of investigations into the shadowy side of Japan shows him to be more enterprising, determined, and crazy than most ... 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 ... [E]ven 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

Praise for Tokyo Vice:

"In this dark, often humoros 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

Praise for Tokyo Vice:

"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

Praise for Tokyo Vice:

"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