Cover image for Tokyo underworld : the fast times and hard life of an American gangster in Japan
Title:
Tokyo underworld : the fast times and hard life of an American gangster in Japan
Author:
Whiting, Robert.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Pantheon Books, [1999]

©1999
Physical Description:
vii, 372 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Language:
English
Personal Subject:
ISBN:
9780679419761
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library HV6248.Z36 W48 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

In the ashes of postwar Japan lay a gold mine for certain opportunistic, expatriate Americans. Addicted to the volatile energy of Tokyo's freewheeling underworld, they formed ever-shifting but ever-profitable alliances with warring Japanese and Korean gangsters. At the center of this world was Nick Zappetti, an ex-marine from New York City who arrived in Tokyo in 1945, and whose restaurant soon became the rage throughout the city and the chief watering hole for celebrities, diplomats, sports figures, and mobsters."Tokyo Underworld" chronicles the half-century rise and fall of the fortunes of Zappetti and his comrades, drawing parallels to the great shift of wealth from America to Japan in the late 1980s and the changes in Japanese society and U.S.-Japan relations that resulted. In doing so, Whiting exposes Japan's extraordinary "underground empire": a web of powerful alliances among crime bosses, corporate chairmen, leading politicians, and public figures. It is an amazing story told with agalvanizing blend of history and reportage.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The continuation of Americans' fascination with all things Asian begets this compelling, sometimes humorous tale of gangland Japan. Whiting, author of the Japanese business history You Gotta Have Wa, traces the rise of the Tokyo "Mafia" through the eyes of American restaurateur Nick Zappetti, whose watering holes became the unofficial headquarters for Japanese mobsters. The rise of the Japanese black market began in the weeks following the Japanese surrender in World War II, and we accompany Zappetti on his trips through the court system, the world of sumo wrestling, and ultimately the Tokyo Olympics, which propelled him into the role of Mafia boss. It is here where Whiting's most compelling writing appears, as Zappetti woos a young beauty queen and then must deal with the frustration of most powerful middle-aged men when they have a fetching young wife. Finally, after the explosion of the Japanese economy during the 1980s, Zappetti and fellow yakuza must deal with the devastating recession, which revealed the close partnership of legitimate businesses and crime lords as nearly mirroring the situation in the U.S. --Joe Collins


Publisher's Weekly Review

Whiting's probe of Japan's gangsters, corrupt entrepreneurs and political fixers reads like a James Bond thriller yet manages intelligently to illuminate the seamy underside of Japan's postwar economic boom. At the heart of his colorful tale is swaggering, thickset Nick Zappetti, a tough from East Harlem's Italian ghetto who arrived in U.S.-occupied Japan in 1945 as a 22-year-old marine sergeant. Zappetti stayed on to become a black marketer, branched out into illegal banking, pimping and armed robbery, then launched a Tokyo pizza restaurant, Nicola's, which became a favorite night spot for mobsters, diplomats and movie stars. After decades of booze, debauchery, multiple marriages, gangland ties and lawsuits, he lost control of his restaurant-chain empire to his former Japanese partner and to his Japanese fourth wife. Zappetti died in 1992, nearly bankrupt and consumed with hatred for the Japanese, whom he saw as arrogant swindlers intent on taking over America. Whiting (You Gotta Have Wa), an American journalist who lives in Tokyo and writes a weekly column for the Japanese press, sets Zappetti's rise and fall against juggernaut Japan's financial ascendancy over the U.S. and its current slide into economic malaise. In this critical, revealing look at a half century of U.S.-Japan relations, he blames General MacArthur's occupational government‘with its massive embezzlement, theft, fraud and black marketing‘for creating the environment that allowed Japan's organized crime syndicates to join forces with its ruling political and business elite, aided by strategic financial aid from the CIA. Eight pages of b&w photos. Agent, Amanda Urban. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Whiting, who lives in Tokyo and writes a column for a Japanese newspaper, tracks the rise of ex-marine Nick Zappetti in Japan's postwar underworld. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

Prologuep. 3
1. The First Black Marketp. 7
2. Occupation Hangoverp. 39
3. Success Storyp. 71
4. Post-Olympic Underground Economyp. 114
5. Miss Hokkaidop. 149
6. Behind the Shojip. 175
7. The Great Transfer of Wealthp. 217
8. Black Riderp. 253
Epiloguep. 282
Acknowledgmentsp. 298
Notes and Sourcesp. 304
Bibliographyp. 350
Indexp. 356

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