Who is Jake Adelstein? Tokyo Vice is based on the memories of the first non-Japanese crime reporter


Tokyo Vice is one of the most anticipated HBO Max shows. A look at the comments section of their YouTube page says so, and some claim they’ve waited 5 years for it to come to fruition.

Tokyo Vice as a concept had been in the pipeline longer and was originally slated to become a 2013 feature film starring Daniel Radcliffe. Snoop Dogg, to name a few, was supposed to be directing the film, but it fell apart. By 2019, Tokyo Vice was being adapted into a television series and WarnerMedia had placed an order for 10 episodes to be streamed on HBO Max.


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Tokyo Vice, starring Ansel Elgort and Ken Watanabe, is an adaptation of Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan. Written by Jake Adelstein in 2009, the non-fiction book commemorates his 12 years as a reporter at Yomiuri Shimbun, one of Japan’s largest newspapers. It is important to note that Adelstein was Shimbun’s first non-Japanese collaborator and also the first to report on the yakuza and other criminal activities.

Who is Jake Adelstein?

Adelstein is an American-born crime writer, journalist, and blogger. Raised in Missouri, he moved to Japan at the age of 19 to study Japanese literature at Sophia University. Five years later, he joined Yomiuri Shimbun as her first non-Japanese author.

Speak with Tokyo reporter Immediately after his book was published, Adelstein recalled that he had started covering two local police stations in Saitama Prefecture. He then moved to the Police Headquarters Press Club, where he was responsible for public safety, theft and organized crime. “I’ve written about your typical sporadic murders, robberies, and also arrest stories of intricate organized crime businesses,” Adelstein said.

He also covered local politics and environmental issues, but “one way or another” Adelstein covered crime. He was eventually promoted to IT news and began writing about the Yakuza for providing venture capital to emerging technology companies. He was then transferred to the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Beat and “there was a fair amount of variation in the types of crimes, frauds and schemes” he had to cover. Adelstein left Yomiuri Shimbun in 2005, after which he published an exposure about how Tadamasa Goto, an alleged crime boss, struck a deal with the FBI to gain entry into the United States for a liver transplant. Soon after, Adelstein had to move as his life was in danger. He even accused Goto of threatening him with death over the story in Tokyo Vice.

Adelstein has subsequently worked with the United States Department of State, Daily Beast, Vice News, and The Japan Times, among others. He is also a board member and advisor to the Lighthouse: Center for Human Trafficking Victims. Adelstein switches between Japan and America.

The first 3 episodes of Tokyo Vice are scheduled to premiere on HBO Max on April 7, 2022. The remaining episodes will appear on Thursdays after the premiere.

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