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A riveting, behind-the-scenes look at the life and times of yakuza mob boss Makoto Saigo, aka Tsunami, by America’s foremost expert on Japanese organized crime.
Makoto Saigo could have been a rock star. Instead he became a yakuza. Born in Japan, but the son of an American-born Japanese woman—who moved back to Japan to avoid internment camps—Saigo was never a typical Japanese boy. As a child, other children referred to him as “a damn American,” or simply a “non-person.” He was always an outsider, but as a teenager in 1970s Tokyo he found his tribe in Japan’s notorious motorcycle gangs—theBosozuko. His life was full of speed, whether synthetically through crystal meth, mechanically from the engine of his bike, or rhythmically as he played guitar for Japan pioneering punk-rock group Gedo. But a chance encounter—and perhaps a bit too much lust for life that kept leading him to Toyko’s notorious red light district—placed him on a different path of becoming a boss in the Inagawa-kai, the country’s third largest organized-crime group.
Full of swordfights, gun battles, finger amputation, rock ‘n’ roll, financial crimes, gang wars, tattoos, and personal vendettas, Saigo’s story is one of a kind. But it is not the only story told here.The Last Yakuza also tells the history of the yakuza since World War II, and explains how the yakuza became so entrenched in Japan. Saigo’s life is the axis around which tales of yakuza life and their role in Japanese society are told. It is the story of one yakuza boss—not a good man, but a man with a code of honor—and the history of the rise and fall of Japan’s underworld as it is almost literally tattooed on his body and charted by his missing finger.
(With 8 pages of black-and-white illustrations.)
JAKE ADELSTEIN is the author of Tokyo Vice. He was a reporter for theYomiuri Shimbun, Japan’s largest newspaper, and was the chief investigator for a U.S. State Department-sponsored study of human trafficking in Japan. He is also the public relations director for the Washington, D.C.-based Polaris Project Japan, which combats human trafficking and the exploitation of women and children in the sex trade. Adelstein has written forThe Daily Beast/Newsweek, The Independent, and The Guardian, and is a regular contributor toThe Atlantic Wire. He has appeared on CNN, NPR, the BBC, and other media outlets as a commentator on yakuza-related news and Japan’s nuclear industry giant, TEPCO.
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