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
Genre Non-fiction, journalism, true crime
Notable works Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan
Spouse Sunao Adelstein
Children 2

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,[1] 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.[2][3]


During his sophomore year at the University of Missouri, he abandoned his career plans to become an actor and instead moved to Japan in 1988 at age 19 to study Japanese literature at Sophia University.[4]


Adelstein began work in 1993 in Saitama Prefecture and says that by the end of that year he was primarily covering organized crime. 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 says he 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 purportedly told him: "Erase the story or be erased."[5] These claims have been questioned by critics, including Goto himself, who calls Adelstein a "novelist."[4] “Just because I’ve retired from the business, doesn’t mean I have the time to track down this American novelist,” Goto wrote in his own memoir, titled “With All Due Respect.”[6]


Adelstein co-wrote a story for a film version of "Tokyo Vice" with American playwright J.T. Rogers, who then wrote the screenplay.[7][8] The film is expected to begin filming in Tokyo in early 2015, with Daniel Radcliffe to play Adelstein.[9] Anthony Mandler will direct the film.[8]

Dispute with National Geographic Television[edit]

On April 19, 2011 Adelstein filed suit as a lone plaintiff in District of Columbia Superior Court against National Geographic Television alleging breach of contract.[10] The two parties had agreed on May 25, 2010, subsequently amended on September 15, 2010, that Adelstein would provide "consulting services" for a documentary about the Japanese underworld.[10] Adelstein subsequently alleged he received death threats and faced "civil and criminal liability" after the defendent choose to ignore his advice during the filming of the documentary. He demanded the resultant film not be "broadcast in the United States or Japan" until he was granted the right to review a final cut and awarded damages for "emotional distress" and "interference with prospective economic advantage."[10] Less than one month later, the case was "dismissed with prejudice" on May 04, 2011.[11] The documentary, called Crime Lords of Tokyo, was shot for $400,000 and aired on October 14, 2011.[12]

Critical reception[edit]

A profile of Adelstein in The New Yorker cited inconsistencies in his job description at Yomiuri Shinbun and questioned his reliance on unnamed sources.[4] Christopher Johnson, a Tokyo-based journalist, checked statements made by Adelstein and claims to have found little evidence to support them.[13]

Published Works[edit]

Other Projects[edit]



External links[edit]