Jake Adelstein

Joshua Lawrence “Jake” Adelstein (born March 28, 1969) is an American[1] journalist, crime writer, and blogger who has spent most of his career in Japan. He is the author of Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan., which inspired HBO Max's 2022 television series of the same name starring Ansel Elgort as Adelstein.

Jake Adelstein
BornJoshua Lawrence Adelstein
(1969-03-28) March 28, 1969 (age 53)
Columbia, Missouri, U.S.
OccupationInvestigative journalist, writer, editor, blogger
GenreTrue crime, non-fiction, journalism
Notable worksTokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan


Adelstein grew up in Columbia, Missouri and graduated from Rock Bridge High School.[2] He moved to Japan at age 19 to study Japanese literature at Sophia University.[3] In 1993, Adelstein became the first non-Japanese staff writer at the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, where he worked for 12 years.[4]

After leaving the Yomiuri, Adelstein published an exposé of how an alleged crime boss, Tadamasa Goto, made a deal with the FBI to gain entry to the United States for a liver transplant at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). In 2009, Adelstein published a memoir about his career as a reporter in Japan, Tokyo Vice, in which he accused Goto of threatening to kill him over the story.[5] There have been many doubts about the veracity of the tales described in the memoir.[6]

Adelstein was subsequently a reporter for a United States Department of State investigation into human trafficking in Japan, and now writes for the Daily Beast, Vice News, The Japan Times and other publications. He is a board member and advisor to the Lighthouse: Center for Human Trafficking Victims (formerly Polaris Project Japan).

On April 19, 2011, Adelstein filed a lawsuit against National Geographic Television, which had hired him to help make a documentary about the yakuza, citing ethical problems with their behaviour in Japan.[7][8] Adelstein withdrew the lawsuit a month later, after reaching a settlement.[9]


  • Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan. New York City: Pantheon Books. 2009. ISBN 978-0-307-37879-8. OCLC 699874898.
  • The Last Yakuza: A Life in the Japanese Underworld. New York City: Pantheon Books. 2016.
  • Pay the Devil in Bitcoin: The Creation of a Cryptocurrency and How Half a Billion Dollars of It Vanished from Japan. New York City: Pantheon Books. 2017.


  1. ^ Jake Adelstein, "Yakuza, strippers, drugs, an undercover Japanese-Jew FBI special agent? Pulp non-fiction.", Twitter, June 26, 2015. Archived March 5, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ https://www.columbiatribune.com/story/news/politics/government/2009/11/01/gaijin-journalist-american-reporter-covered/21550565007/ Gaijin Journalist American Reporter Covered
  3. ^ Hessler, Peter. "All Due Respect" Profile, The New Yorker, January 9, 2012.
  4. ^ Mark Willacy, "Exposing Japan's Insidious Underbelly", ABC News, October 20, 2009; accessed November 20, 2010.
  5. ^ Jake Adelstein, "This Mob Is Big in Japan", The Washington Post, May 11, 2008, Accessed November 20, 2010
  6. ^ THR Magazine, "Insiders Call B.S. on ‘Tokyo Vice’ Backstory", The Hollywood Reporter, April 29, 2022; accessed May 2, 2022.
  7. ^ Eriq Gardner (May 10, 2011). "NatGeo Delays Japanese Mafia Show at Center of Lawsuit (Updated)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 1, 2015.
  8. ^ "Superior Court of the District of Columbia. April 19, 2011" (PDF).
  9. ^ "Superior Court of the District of Columbia. May 4, 2011" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 28, 2014.

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