GAIJIN JUSTICE - PART II
CS: I know that your background in covering organized crime segued into the issue of human trafficking. I was surprised to learn that the issue has become more domestic because international trafficking is more closely monitored. You also pinpoint the issue of Japanese runaways?
JA: I've been working with Polaris , the Japanese branch of a project in Washington, D.C. to combat human trafficking and exploitation. As immigration clamps down at the border, the sex industry--which is mostly run by yakuza -- preys on runaways. It's surprising but not that shocking when you have one group of women you can't exploit anymore. Japan does not have a good system or enough shelters and they aren't prepared to deal with teen girls running away from home. These girls have no place to go, so they are prime targets for human traffickers.
CS: Back to your book--has there been feedback you can tell me about?
JA: One terrible miscalculation was that I named all of the yakuza who got liver transplants. One is the head of another gang with 2,400 members and some believe that he made a deal and got himself adopted into another family (as an adult you can be adopted in Japan) which is something people misuse to change their name. ...
Anyway, he took the name Arai and came into the US under that name and therefore no one realized he was coming in. But because there was this implication (in the book) that he made a deal with the FBI, he is angry with me. I make a point of saying he didn't make a deal with FBI because I don't need another yakuza boss to be angry at me. He's a great guy. A great traditional yakuza guy... I'm hoping that this gets to his ears. As for Goto, in April 2009, he took his Buddhist vows. Now he is allegedly studying the ways of peace and tolerance.
What's he really doing?
He's pretty much doing what he always did. In fact, first he has another trial over real estate fraud coming out of a case in which a broker working against Goto was savagely killed in the street. Since the police have yet to convict anyone, they've decided to grab him on related charges - so he wants to make a good impression on the judge and he wants to show that he's now a monk. The thing is, he's probably hoping the holy robes will make a bullet proof vest. Everyone wants the bad guy to become the good guy. Once he's a monk, it's hard for people to kill him. And lots of people want to kill him because he knows too much. And he's probably still running loan sharking companies.
What are things like for you now? Can you travel freely?
I travel to Japan every month for the Polaris Project. I also still write for Japanese magazines. I just write under a pen name. Occasionally I get some strange consulting jobs and I'll do those. My base is Japan. Japan has a public health system and if I got sick, I could be treated and not go bankrupt. I can't afford to leave Japan permanently --I need that health insurance. In fact, for most procedures, it's much cheaper to get a ticket to Japan and stay a month than to be treated in the US. ( I should have asked him about his prospects for getting a new liver in either country, but here's hoping it never come to this!)
Where do you prefer to live?
Japan. I'm very comfortable there. I would actually prefer to move my family back there -- the question is if I can do it safely or not. It's hard to figure out with these people. Now I think I have some sort of peace treaty with Goto. He is done with me and I with him. Maybe we'll sit down and have a nice talk someday. But it's hard to know -- they're not very forgiving.