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.]