Mr. Vice Guy

Bruce Gilden / Magnum

Yubitsume (finger-shortening) is the classic yakuza gesture of atonement

Yakuza gang bosses in Japan give interviews on TV, dine openly with politicians and traditionally hand out business cards, so everyone knows how to find them. Roughly 40,000 mobsters belong to the Yamaguchi-gumi alone. Everybody knows that the yakuza get money from bars and restaurants, construction companies, even private-detective agencies. But these days some of their principal businesses include securities trading and management consulting. They are increasingly, Jake Adelstein tells us in his gripping descent into the underworld, Tokyo Vice , like bankers "with guns."

Adelstein should know. As a rare foreigner working...

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