Jake Adelstein

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Jake Adelstein
Born Joshua Lawrence Adelstein
Missouri, United States
Occupation journalist, investigator, writer, researcher, risk analyst, editor, blogger
Nationality American, Japanese
Genres Non-fiction, journalism, true crime
Notable work(s) Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan
Spouse(s) Sunao Adelstein
Children Beni Adelstein, Ray Adelstein

Joshua "Jake" Adelstein is an American freelance journalist and blogger who has spent most of his career in Japan. In 1993, Adelstein became the first non-Japanese staff writer at the Yomiuri Shinbun newspaper, the largest print news publication in Japan where he worked for twelve years. He was subsequently a reporter for a US State Department investigation into human trafficking in Japan, and now writes for various publications. Adelstein has published a memoir, Tokyo Vice.[1][2]


Adelstein began work in 1993 in Saitama Prefecture and says that by the end of that year he was primarily covering organized crime: "Other reporters covered homicide, or white collar crime, my beat was organized crime".[3] In 1999, the newspaper relocated him to Tokyo, to cover the Kabukicho district in particular. He was one of many Tokyo-based journalists to cover events such as the disappearance of Lucie Blackman. He also investigated human trafficking. Adelstein claims that one such investigation resulted in the murder of an unidentified prostitute.

In 2005, Adelstein found evidence that an alleged crime boss named Tadamasa Goto had received a liver transplant in the United States. He was interested in the information as Goto was known to the US authorities and, Adelstein believed, could only have entered the US via illicit means. Goto had allegedly made a deal with the FBI to arrange entry to the US in return for intelligence on the Japanese mafia. While working on a story about the case, Adelstein says he received death threats from Goto's men, who told him: "Erase the story or be erased."[4]

Adelstein also says that he slept with Goto's mistress in order to obtain information about Goto.[5]


Adelstein was interviewed in a 2009 CBS documentary about the yakuza[6] and in a program by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in August 2010.[7] He also co-wrote a story for a film version of "Tokyo Vice" with American playwright J.T. Rogers, who then wrote the screenplay.[8][9] The film is expected to begin filming in Tokyo in early 2015, with Daniel Radcliffe to play Adelstein.[10] Anthony Mandler will direct the film.[11]

On April 19, 2011 Adelstein filed a lawsuit against National Geographic Television, which had hired him to help make a documentary about the yakuza. Adelstein accused NatGeo of breach of contract and warned that people interviewed in the documentary were in danger of violent reprisals by the yakuza.[12] According to the Hollywood Reporter, Adelstein sued NatGeo, saying it used footage it didn't have rights to, and failed to take reasonable efforts to protect the identities of its sources."Adelstein no longer believes National Geographic Television is interested in accurately reporting in the foreign cultures they investigate," said the complaint in DC Superior Court. "Rather, following its partial acquisition by News Corp., Mr. Adelstein was told National Geographic Television now has new 'standards and practices' rules that are apparently aimed at increasing the entertainment value of their programming at the cost of accuracy and journalistic integrity." The parties came to some kind of agreement. The lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice, but neither party will disclose the nature of the resolution.[13]. National Geographic Channel has been repeatedly criticised for staging reality show, faking footage,and misleading the public. [14]. News Corporation the de facto owner of NGT, ran a newspaper where employees were accused of engaging in phone hacking, police bribery, interfering with a police investigation, and exercising improper influence in the pursuit of publishing stories, and other unethical journalist practices. [15] Investigative journalists at The Guardian helped expose the ruthless and unethical practices of the company.

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