I make Globalite Mag again, with a quote.

Christopher Johnson has a piece up concerning Joshua “Jake” Adelstein, which now makes it more clear why there has been the activity there has been on Twitter.

I make the story for a quote or two, from a post earlier this month:

The overall piece was much more hard-hitting than I could have imagined, from just knowing about the National Geographic litigation last year. Chris Johnson did a lot of leg work, and phone calling, to fill in pieces of some earlier reporting by a Hessler for the New Yorker magazine, and some individuals who had done business with Adelstein in Tokyo.

What I am still focused on is the alleged threat by a yakuza boss, and the offer of $500,000 to keep silent about some story a while back. If Japanese nationals are making death threats, or threats of bodily harm, against Americans, I am sure—damn sure—that the U.S. State Department would be on top of at least that. You may be cheated out of labor law, you may be cheated out of the proper pension coverage. You may be cheated out of custody of your children, even. But when it comes to death or bodily injury, Uncle Sam usually has that right at the top of the agenda. If. If.

I think Jake Adelstein is an entertaining novelist, and, from the excerpts I read, Tokyo Vice is a worthwhile book. I tended to doubt, though, some of the claims promoted around that book, and the latest Johnson piece really fills in a lot of gray areas as to the hows and whys that an American would be so involved with Japanese mob. Johnson’s recounting clearly shows that the how and why is that there wasn’t a big connection, or nothing that couldn’t be duplicated if you lived in Brooklyn or New Jersey, and knew some names.

In some New Jersey communities, the image of being connected to the mob was its own value, even if, in fact, that person had no connection to the mob. So much so maybe, I would say there were more people with pretend connections than actual connections, especially when they wanted to make a threat. I suppose that wanting to create an image in the foreign, exotic land, could also be a pretext for feigning this deep relationship that, frankly, does not seem to be there.

I wouldn’t say phony. But rather, it’s an embellishment of the situation and the story. There may be something there, but telling is that it’s so much more than really is.

Because there are not the normal limits on the Japan-side expat community, once a hot air balloon starts rising, it tends to keep going until it pops or gets brought down by gravity.

[Update 4/29/12: A link to the Adelstein Daily Show appearance, via Huffington Post.]

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7 comments

  1. 19th Century Whaling Riffraff · April 29, 2012

    Hoofin,

    I’ve wondered about this guy since I read (from ‘Mobsters on a mission: How Japan’s mafia launched an aid effort’ by Jake Edelstein):
    “Like everyone else who joined the paper, I learnt the basics of reporting on the police beat, in my case, in Saitama, a rough Tokyo suburb.”

    It’s so clumsy to call Saitama a suburb. Why not name the districts in Saitama that have yakuza presence? I’d love to know if I was pushing my luck on a few occassions (Nishi-Kawaguchi? – is that in Saitama?), and lived to tell about it. Mention Saitama and I think of the well heeled at Urawa Station.
    Even if it’s fiction, it needs work to play to the in-country crowd. But I love a good yakuza story.

  2. Harold · April 30, 2012

    Obviously, you are the yakuza expert. You should tell the US Treasury Department to start listening to you and Christopher Johnson. Do you even read Japanese? Or do you even read the newspapers? You might try “google.”
    You are about the only one who seems to take Johnson seriously–I guess you’ll argue that his enemies forged the threats to Gavin Blair (who he names) and the “nasty message” he left for the man’s kids.
    Adelstein may exaggerate but he’s not a nutcase.
    And you write without even bothering to research. Your last thing on the State Department was a classic example. Yeah, the State Department doesn’t take yakuza seriously. The DOT must be idiots then.
    Sheesh.

    http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg1430.aspx

    • hoofin · April 30, 2012

      You have one problem. (At least.)

      What you link to is a Department of Treasury item. It pertains to an Executive Order, issued by President Obama last summer, prohibiting the U.S. financial system from dealing with the Yamaguchi yakuza group, and other racketeering organizations in other countries. Because so many international transactions settle through New York, this means the Yamaguchi group and the named individuals are really encumbered if they try to move money outside of Japan. It also means that the banking system in America needs to know which businesses and which persons are the Yamaguchi. This means, it’s not a secret.

      Secondly, this is not the same as being on the DoS or DoD lists of international terrorist organizations. It just means the yaks cannot use the U.S. financial system.

      You entirely avoid the issue of whether the DoS and/or Dod is taking as credible the threats allegedly made against an American citizen in Japan.

      Additionally, your comments about Christopher Johnson are inappropriate, and stricken where they clearly cross a line. I don’t want my site to be a vehicle for Mr. David Schaufele or Mr. Blair to carry on their feud with Johnson, and so please don’t add their nonsense to your comment, if you choose to respond.

  3. jane grey · April 30, 2012

    Hi Hoofin,
    Always an interesting read, thank you. I appreciate your unbiased and level headed comments. Have you seen http://www.japansubculture.com/personal-vendettas-credibility-collateral-damage-天の邪鬼対策/#comment-2686 and http://tepido.org/assfinger-iv-cjs-back/687/comment-page-3#comment-13788 ?
    You are being set up as the one who pulls CJ’s strings, which is odd, because they were very public recently about specifically not targeting you….

    • hoofin · April 30, 2012

      Oh, sweet Jesus! These guys are just turkeys.

      I comment on these things weeks after they’re Japan-side blogger gossip. It’s off things that are already out there. Then, one or two of them decide I am Svengali. It never fails. Svengali, how?!

      That, and one other thing, are so annoying. It’s these people who go around and try to enforce orthodoxy about who they see as “in”, and who is “out”. They don’t like the fact that I give some credence to the “outs”. And, I really want to know how disputes began, and who has an interest in pitching certain angles.

      Jane, I really don’t trust the people who continuously post at Tepido, and their using the various sock puppet handles. So I’d almost go with the opposite of “not targeting” me. I think these people live for that sort of thing.

      • jane grey · April 30, 2012

        Makes me glad I don’t have a blog, in all honesty.

        • hoofin · April 30, 2012

          I realize that is one of these peoples’ goals, by the way. I met folks in 2003 who were like that, too. But the editorial page of the newspaper is gone. What replaces it? Or do we all just get information from televised megamedia, and just think whatever some billionaire in the shadows wants us to?

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