What’s it like being an American in Tokyo’s organized crime underworld?

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Jake Adelstein tells some compelling true stories and pens a few great bon mots in his book Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan. I thought I’d share some of my notes:

  • “…people installed stronger locks, so now the crooks walk around carrying power drills, corkscrews (which are effective in turning the lock), and cute little stickers of happy faces, Hello Kitty and the like. Why stickers? They’re used to cover up the drilled hole in the lock so that while the thief is inside pilfering the place, nobody walking by will notice anything amiss.”
  • “Simplify, cut down on things you don’t need, but be sure to leave something behind worth having.”
  • “Confession is for the confessor. It makes you feel good; it ruins the lives of everyone else. It’s a selfish thing to do. Don’t confess.”
  • “It would mean that my own crew and the people I have raised like my children are going to drag me out to the mountains of Chichibu in the middle of the night, shoot me in the head, and bury me in a shallow grave.”

“Ouch. Could it get any worse?”

“Oh, yes. They might make me dig my own grave, beat me to a pulp, and then bury me alive. But I don’t think that will happen. I’ve been around for a long time. I think I’ve earned enough respect to be buried only after I’m completely dead.”

Check the book out for yourself here: Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan.

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