Yakuza: Japan's Criminal Underworld

Yakuza: Japan's Criminal Underworld

Yakuza: Japan's Criminal Underworld

Yakuza: Japan's Criminal Underworld


"A fascinating study of how criminal enterprise can infect the very heart of modern capitalism. Here is the backstage world of political influence and organized crime in the world's second largest economy... by far the most detailed and even-handed study of this important and neglected subject."--John W. Dower, author of "Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II

Reviews of original edition:

"A superb study of Japan's underworld that is both entertaining and revealing. The authors miss none of the color and curious detail of the yakuza style, but at the same time go far beyond surface observations."--"Far Eastern Economic Review

"The book is laden with fascinating information, some of it heretofore unavailable in English."--"Washington Post "

"Blend the Mafia with the Masons. Let them simmer a while, then fold in the Ku Klux Klan and you'll have the yakuza. . . . Important and timely. . . "Yakuza "will serve for years as the source document on Japanese organized crime."--"San Jose Mercury,News "

"State-of-the-art investigative reporting. . . must reading for those who consider themselves already highly conversant with yakuza activities. . . disturbing."--"Journal of Asian Studies


The original edition of Yakuza was first published in 1986 by Addison-Wesley in the United States. Sales were modest at first, but the book earned a place as a standard reference on Japanese organized crime. Foreign publishers also took interest in the work and eventually Yakuza was translated into nine languages. Along the way, the authors encountered some rather odd experiences which added measurably to our understanding of Japanese crime.

A British edition went to three printings and over 30,000 copies worldwide, becoming a best-seller in the Far East. Despite these sales, in 1989 the book's publisher, Robert Maxwell, suddenly ordered our entire inventory shredded, over the protests of his staff. The authors, unaware of all this, were rather puzzled as to why the books so quickly disappeared from shelves around the world. Max well, welater learned, was doing a favor for his Japanese friend and backer, philanthropist Ryoichi Sasakawa. This book had reported on Sasakawa's imprisonment as a Class A war criminal and tied him to Japan's underworld and ultranationalist movement. Both Maxwell and Sasakawa are now dead, and no legal challenge was ever made to this book. Unfortunately, the international English edition died an unnatural death.

The authors also had high hopes for marketing Yakuza in Japan, where books by foreigners about the Japanese sell well, as do books about the yakuza. But after expressing great interest in the book, publisher after publisher turned down the work. In all, some eighteen houses passed on Yakuza, much to our dismay. Our Japanese literary agent finally wrote from Tokyo, attempting to outline the problem. “The content of book presents some possibilities of trouble, ” he telexed, “as some words refer to racial segregation (our historical problem with Koreans) and references to particular figures in certain political parties and organizations are mentioned in the . . .

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