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The Gentle Art of Japanese Murder
November 25, 2010 4:21 PM   Subscribe

I asked Igari to help me deal with the fallout from the book. After much discussion, he and his two colleagues came up with a plan. His parting words were: “It’ll be a long battle. It’ll take money and courage, and you’ll have to come up with those on your own. But we’ll fight.” On August 28th, his body was found in his vacation home in Manila, wrists slashed. Time of death unknown. It’s been ruled a suicide. Personally, I believe he was killed. I probably will never be able to prove it.

It’s rather simple: In 2008, I angered a yakuza boss named Goto Tadamasa, who was head of a 1,000-member strong faction of the country’s largest gang, the Yamaguchi-gumi. In an article published in the Washington Post, I wrote how he had sold out his own group to the FBI in order to get a visa for the United States so he could receive a liver transplant at UCLA. The article along with a subsequent book I helped write for Takarajima Publishing resulted in him being kicked out of the Yamaguchi-gumi on October 14, 2008. Takarijma, without bothering to warn me, published his biography this May. It’s a great book–except for a bit of subtle language that amounts to a yakuza-style fatwa on my life.

It’s a dangerous thing to expose the worst of the yakuza for what they are. Itami Juzo, directed the first realistic film about the yakuza, Minbo, in 1992. Goto-gumi members attacked him for doing it, slashing his face open. He would later tell the New York Times in an interview, “They cut very slowly, they took their time. They could have killed me if they wanted to.” Eventually they did. On December 20, 1997, after a weekly magazine wrote about his extra-marital affair, he allegedly killed himself. A former member of the Goto-gumi told me in 2008, “We set it up to stage his murder as a suicide. We dragged him up to the rooftop and put a gun in his face. We gave him a choice: jump and you might live or stay and we’ll blow your face off. He jumped. He didn’t live.”
posted by KokuRyu (23 comments total) 53 users marked this as a favorite

 
Tokyo Beat is a good read. Highly recommend it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:34 PM on November 25, 2010


Holy shit. I love Minbo and Itami Juzo in general. It's the first time i read anything about his suicide being a murder.
posted by SageLeVoid at 4:36 PM on November 25, 2010


60 Minutes did a piece on Tadamasa Goto. Lara Logan interviewed Jake Adelstein.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 4:37 PM on November 25, 2010


.
posted by CardinalRichelieuHandPuppet at 4:40 PM on November 25, 2010


a yakuza style religious edict? what?
posted by mulligan at 5:00 PM on November 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


"If you capitulate, if you run away, you’ll be chased for the rest of your life. And if you’re being chased, eventually what is chasing you will catch up. Step back and you’re dead already. You can only stand your ground and pursue. Because that’s not only the right thing to do, that’s the only thing to do."

Very well said, to say the least.
posted by vidur at 5:27 PM on November 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


While "Fatwa" translates from the Arabic (I believe) as a religious edict handed down from an eminent religious scholar of the authority to issue such proclamations, ever since Salman Rushdie Fatwa has been (at least in the English language) a short-hand for "Sentence of Death, authorizing those followers who hear it to carry it out".
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 5:27 PM on November 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


So weird seeing people I know linked on the blue.
posted by nightchrome at 5:41 PM on November 25, 2010


Thanks Kokoryu, great post and the Japan Subculture Research Centre is a great site, thanks for introducing me to it.
posted by smoke at 6:21 PM on November 25, 2010


Yeah, I'm sure Mulligan knows about the misuse of the word Fatwa. While I'm generally not too prescriptive about language, the history of misuse doesn't excuse perpetuating the idea (intentionally or otherwise) that Islamic clerics only make their opinions known via death threats.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:33 PM on November 25, 2010


Yes, as Blazecock Pileon above mentioned, the author of the article wrote a book called Tokyo Vice which I've been reading today. An unlikely story of a Gaijin with chutzpah who ends up working as a reporter with yakuza sources.
posted by kozad at 6:50 PM on November 25, 2010


For the record, I pointed Jake Adelstein at this thread as he'd never heard of metafilter before. So he might just become a mefite.
posted by nightchrome at 7:46 PM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


This post is full of interesting links, thank you.

But it is truly bizarre that the director of Tampopo died in such a fashion. As an American I would find it surreal if the Cohen brothers were taken out by the mob.
posted by munchingzombie at 8:47 PM on November 25, 2010


assassin politics.
posted by clavdivs at 9:03 PM on November 25, 2010


Here's a link to the New York Times interview where Itami talks about getting his face sliced open.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:51 PM on November 25, 2010


Oh, and also

.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:03 PM on November 25, 2010


Fascinating. There's a cascading series of links here (Adelstein's work, Goto's story, Itami Juzo's death) to keep me in reading material all weekend. Thanks KokuRyu!
posted by jet_manifesto at 10:15 PM on November 25, 2010


I'm in the middle of Tokyo Vice right now. It's a good read, and I'll have to check this out later. Good post.
posted by zardoz at 11:23 PM on November 25, 2010


Sorry, that's Tokyo Vice, not Tokyo Beat. Thanks for the correction.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:43 AM on November 26, 2010


I saw that guy on The Daily Show
posted by delmoi at 5:53 AM on November 27, 2010


If you capitulate, if you run away, you’ll be chased for the rest of your life. And if you’re being chased, eventually what is chasing you will catch up. Step back and you’re dead already. You can only stand your ground and pursue. Because that’s not only the right thing to do, that’s the only thing to do.

Well said.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:14 AM on November 27, 2010


If you capitulate, if you run away, you’ll be chased for the rest of your life. And if you’re being chased, eventually what is chasing you will catch up.

While that makes sense logically, it's also theoretically possible to run for the extent of your natural life.
posted by delmoi at 8:26 PM on November 27, 2010


While that makes sense logically, it's also theoretically possible to run for the extent of your natural life.

Yes, but then one lives a life of fear and cowardice, hoping one dies of natural causes before the bad guys kill you.

May as well kill yourself now and get it over with rather than live that kind of wretched, depressing, demi-life, the end of which will still resolve to a decaying corpse anyway.

Everybody dies some day of something. It's how one lives that matters.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:50 AM on November 30, 2010


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