Robert Whiting: Tokyo Underworld

He claimed gave him street cred His unceasing shrewdness cunning and willingness to engage in business ventures for which he had no ualifications or experience eg making pizzas pig farming etc in anticipation of the uick buck eventually paid off making him one of the wealthiest if not the wealthiest gaijin in JapanBut Zappetti s associates and acuaintances were eually as colorful and Whiting sketches these characters with subtle wit Really there was little Whiting had to o to make these guys interesting Check it out Rikidozan the former sumo turned professional wrestling superstar who hid his Korean heritage from Japanese prejudice while he painted the town red in booze and pill fueled partying binges shouting insults he had learned in English like kokkusakka and kommi basutadoHisayuki Machii the 6 2 200 pound mob boss known for killing two men with his bare hands and who once worked for American intelligence Like Rikidozan he also was an ethnic Korean in a Japan that still marginalized KoreansJohn Gorgeous Mac MacFarland the Wild Bull of Nebraska a big American lug who played the role of villain in the pro wrestling circuit and was later involved in an ill fated Memory Boot Camp diamond heist He was known for bizarre lapses in sanity and unusual sexual tastesSee You can t make this stuff up Whiting s account of Japanese gangsters bears little resemblance to the slick stoic tattooed yakuza we see in American films These guys had a sense of honor nooubt and were super tough imagine taking fifty three stitches sans anesthetic or facing a sword wielding opponent while unarmed These guys were crazy And they paid the price for their lifestyles They were all in notoriously bad health with toneless bodies and wan complexions caused by a steady morning to night London Calling diet of cheap sake unfiltered cigarettes and methamphetamines Many of them suffered fromiabetes and thy talked incessantly of of treatments for tooth cavities and hemorrhoids Hardly a glamorous picture The modus operandi of Japanese gangsters changed later however to white collar crime as Japan s economic fortune made a reversal in the 80s While the antics of Zappetti et al feature prominently the subtitle The Fast Times and Hard Life of an American Gangster in Japan is somewhat misleading because the greater narrative is less on Zappetti s life than Japan s post war economic life and the hidden factors that contributed to its remarkable Orchard Valley Grooms development Whiting gives us a view of post war Japanese economicevelopment that Japanese leaders are probably not willing to readily admit that a great Croma Venture: The Spiral Wars, Book 5 deal of the economicevelopment was Rancher Daddy (Saddlers Prairie, due in no small part to a lucrative underground economy the players in which were organized crime groups the CIA Japanese big business and the Liberal Democratic Party Japan s conservative political partyespite its nameBeing one of the Cold War era bulwarks against communism the CIA heavily funded money to the LDP who in turn utilized its extensive underworld connections A uote from Jiro Ode president of a finance company the Yakuza are part of the LDP It is a relationship of mutual help friendship cooperation and support There are no straight lines nothing The Tycoons Very Personal Assistant dividing them Everyone is grayHoweverespite the fact that corruption played an integral role in post war One Girl One Dream development and it could be said that this corruption is just part ofoing business in Japan it is important to note that Western concepts of corruption and customary Japanese practices and concepts of gift giving and harmony are often at odds as Japan faced inevitable cultural shifts in the latter part of the twentieth century Neither the US nor Japan were completely free from blame Tokyo Underworld made it apparent that cultural misunderstandings and ignorance go both waysWhiting s history of post WWII Japan is an eye opening and entertaining account well researched and something that most students of Asia economics or social sciences are not likely to encounter elsewhere While casual readers might find some of the bits that focus on the greater political and economic areas tedious I think Zappetti s story as well as the others that feature than makes up for tha. Ssional wrestler who almost single handedly revived Japanese pride but whose own ethnicity had to be kept secret And here is the story of the intimate relationships shared by Japan's ruling party its financial combines its ruthless criminal gangs the CIA American Big Business and perhaps at least one presidential relative Here is the underside of postwar Japan which is only now coming to light.

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Well if you think in 1945 after Japan surrendered that the US just came in wrote a new constitution ran things for a few years while the Japanese sat around and said Yes sir and no sir you need to read this book This is not a Tokyo of tea ceremonies and Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines no flower arranging and bonsai sculpting No this is a postwar Tokyo of black markets of massive thefts and corruption from the smallest street vendor all the way to the prime minister with hundreds of stops between And Americans were right in the middle of all this from the gangster entrepreneur Nick Zappetti the main protagonist of this book to the CIA Lockheed and all the way to the presidency Prostitution business protection shakedowns gambling The Amazing SAS drugs weapons bribes blackmail it s all here Prettyurn fascinating account that has nothing to The Conquerors Lady / The Mercenarys Bride / His Enemys Daughter do with cherry blossoms nor American exceptionalism I wanted to like this as I am admittedly Japan obsessed and a big fan of true crimeThere are some gems here some wild characters and a few crazy crime stories but ultimately the bookoesn t really Broken Prophecy deliver on what was advertised at least not in my opinionThe parts focusing on the American Gangster in Tokyo tend to be entertaining and there are even a few side characters if you will that are even fascinatingbut they weave in and out of the bookropping off often and being replaced with anecdotes of crimes that seem so white collar that they barely The Dangerous Debutante (Romney Marsh, deserve the term crime at all So much are littleescriptions of some corporate espionage through information gathering via prostitutes or little side business Surrender My Heart (Harts in Love, deals that shortcut past needed certificationsyawn inducing stuffIf you really love Japan and are interested in some post WW2 corruption give this one a read BUT if you are looking for something a little thrilling may I suggest the book Tokyo Vice Great book on the post war rise of Japan from the perspective of an Italian American Ex GI who had a lot of shady friends Topics include Roppongi history The post war takeover of Japanese society Media Gov t etc by right wing nationalist war veteran yakuza types Cold War American complicity and involvement in said takeover Particularly by Republican Admins CIA Nixon Korean Mafia Lockheed Martin Scandal PM Kakuei Tanaka of the Tanaka politicalynasty See also Makiko Tanaka Pro wrestling as national feel good propaganda and entertainment I The Wedding Challenge (The Matchmaker don t really give this book two stars because it s a BAD book I m just not convinced that it really concerns a gangster I may be nitpicking but this felt like a garden variety criminal really It s pushing it to put this on my Japanese Mob shelf It s an interesting enough book however and those interested in the American expatriate experience in Japan will nooubt like it But I was looking for something about An American Gangster in Japan and I Quadruplets On The Doorstep didn t really feel like this was that Those who are avoiding the US election news should skip this book since like a rancid cheeto Trump shows up as a partner or patsy for Japanese mobsters Other US figures include Nixon and Prescott BushThe GRescription is pretty complete so I will not add much notes on the content My first comment is read the acknowledgements an notes in the back they add Luke depth to the bookon t skip them The amount of corruption going on in the book seems horrifying if you haven t read much about The Hero Next Door (Lighthouse Lane down andirty politics this was going on in the US when I was young Read up on Frank Hague or the Tweed Ring as an example of traditional American machine politics The violence shown by the Japanese gangs may be less than these bad boys The US still has corruption but not to the extent of 60 years ago For aspiring fiction writers the bizarre life stories of some of these yahoos might provide some inspiration and help prevent the A Bride For A Blue-Ribbon Cowboy dreaded villianus mechaniaus for further fodder along these lines you can read Speed Tribes Days and Night s with Japan s Next Generation among a few others most of this infooesn t make it to the US so the online Japanese news sites can provide you with the current payoff scandal of the month If you a video oriented sort of person Pigs and Battles. A fascinating look at some fascinating people who show how The Witnesses (Lancaster Burning democracy advances hand in hand with crime in Japan Mario PuzoIn this unorthodox chronicle of the rise of Japan Inc Robert Whiting author of You Gotta Have Wa gives us a fresh perspective on the economic miracle and nearisaster that is modern JapanThrough the eyes of Nick Zappetti a former GI former black marketer failed professional.

Hips is part of the Criterion collection or you can watch one of the countless Takeshi yakuza filmsAn engrossing read on t start it late at night Amusing and relatively accurate story about how post war Japan was built by the CIA gangsters and professional wrestlers From the standpoint of a history nerd especially one who specialized in Japanese history this book is simply awesome Even though it s a historical read bordering on biography Whiting oes a fabulous job of making this read almost like fiction Great subject matter explored in this book I m a huge fan of cultural comparisons and this is how it should be one I found this to be a fascinating read from cover to cover The sub title of Robert Whiting s fine book is a bit misleading The American gangster in uestion often isappears from the narrative for long stretches while Whiting explains the long history of collusion between Japanese politicians and the yakuza Nevertheless the result is a fascinating social history with plenty of entertaining anecdotes and colorful character profiles Chief among the latter are Nick Zapetti himself the gangster who made a fortune with pizza parlors that became the hangout of choice for expatriates entertainers and most significantly those who make their living on the wrong side of the law and then lost that fortune through a combination of stubbornness bad luck and ignorance Another highlight is the career of Rikidozan the former sumo wrestler who became a national hero and single handedly established professional wrestling in Japan by The Best Revenge (Redstone, Incorporated defeating foreign wrestlers in scripted bouts all the while hiding his Korean heritage Often very funny this book appeals to both a taste for the prurient and seamy and theesire for a serious even handed analysis of the role of organized crime political selfishness and short sighted anti Communism in Japan s rise to power and wealth Robert Whiting is uniuely ualified to write about this bit of history He has lived in Japan for years and writes a column for a Japanese language newspaper He knows the language and the people better than most Gaijan in JapanStart this book and you will find yourself falling into an odd recipe of US Occupation forces ancient Japanese culture and ex US Military mobsters who see a profit in this madness called Tokyo Throw it all in the blender and hit frappe and you get what happened to business and finance in Japan following WWII The story is amazing and clearly told by WhitingTo understand the Japanese perspective Whiting educates us about the need for competing gangs who operate black markets and help businesses out with the occasional blackmail of competitors Such activities we are assured help to eliminate confusion in the marketplace By confusion the Japanese usually mean any foreign competitor who offers goods or services at a lower prices than the local source The Japanese business owners go to great lengths to avoid confusionYou just have to read this slickly written piece of history to understand how things really work in Japan And how some outsiders learned to work inside Japan to make millions uick what Ranchers Perfect Baby Rescue do gangsters the US Army professional wrestling the CIA the LDP the militaryindustrial complex TV pachinko and pizza have in common If you said the post war Japanese underground economy then you have either read this book or are an extremely abstract thinker Robert Whiting s Tokyo Underworld The Fast Times and Hard Life of an American Gangster in Japan places Japan s post WWII economic recovery in a whole new light Witness to this recovery and subseuent reversal in economic power is Nick Zappetti a former GI and would be mobster turned pizza restaurateur While introducing Italian syle pizza to the Land of the Rising Sun Zappetti hobnobbed with scores of shady characters who matched his own shady proclivitiesZappetti lived a colorful life in Japan First arriving in Japan as part of the US Occupation forces he took advantage of the thriving black market before opening a pizza joint in Roppongi that became the go to place for expats and yakuza alike The fact that Zappetti himself had Mafia ties back in New York at least. Wrestler bunglingiamond thief who turned himself into the Mafia boss of Tokyo and the king of Rappongi we meet the players and the losers in the high stakes game of postwar finance politics and criminal corruption in which he thrived Here's the story of the Imperial Hotel iamond robbers who attempted and may have accomplished the biggest heist in Tokyo's history Here is Rikidozan the profe.

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