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An American In Japan, Investigating The 'Tokyo Vice'

Nov 9, 2009 (Fresh Air from WHYY)

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As an American journalist in Japan, Jake Adelstein uncovered a world unknown to many of the Japanese public, let alone to foreigners: the world of organized crime. For 12 years, he investigated for Japan's largest newspaper, the Yomiuri Shinbun.

In his final story, Adelstein went toe-to-toe with one of the country's most notorious crime bosses, a discovery that led to death threats for him and his family — death threats that have yet to be lifted. His new memoir about his experiences is called Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan.

After leaving the paper in 2005, Adelstein was chief investigator for a U.S. State Department-sponsored study of human trafficking in Japan. Today he is considered one of the foremost experts on organized crime in Japan, and works as a writer and consultant in Japan and the United States.

Adelstein is also the public relations director for the Washington, D.C.-based Polaris Project Japan, which combats human trafficking and the exploitation of women and children in the sex trade. He joins Terry Gross to talk about that work, his book and the organized-crime landscape in Japan.

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