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Book Review – Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter On The Police Beat In Japan by Jake Adelstein

This is a fascinating insight into journalism in Japan. The author spent long years working from the bottom of the industry to gain respect and contacts. The narrative is very tight and really compelling giving the reader a look into a secretive boys club that rarely if ever gets exposure.

If you are a budding journalist then this would be a good book to read to expose you to industry practices in different countries. It clearly demonstrates the different standards that were expected from reporters in Japan before internet coverage became the norm. The fact that the author managed to become embroiled in a story with the Yakuza only makes it easier to read.

I heartily recommend this book to anyone who takes a passing interest in non-fiction books because it is fast paced and fascinating. There are few if any books about this area of Japanese culture and this book is extremely well written and I flew through it.

Has anyone else read this? I am heading back into fiction again for my next book and will get another review posted when I find the time amidst life happening around me!


UK Elections 2015

So the general elections are rolling around soon in the UK and it is exciting times for the Green Party. They are growing at an unprecedented rate and are now the 3rd largest party in the country based on membership numbers. The rise has been meteoric and shows the problem with unprepared parties who are thrust into the limelight. When you are the underdog you don’t need to have a cohesive and coherent message because you are in no danger of forming a government. Launched into relevancy as they are now it seems that they lack a concise area to focus on when preparing a message. It is a shame because they would be a welcome liberal addition to British politics, especially since Tony Blair led the Labour party in a wild swerve to the right in homage to his erstwhile hero Bill Clinton. I say erstwhile because he was clearly enamoured with the Bush Cheney axis of questionable morals by the time he left.

The UK is lacking a real left wing and I hope the Green’s can step bravely into that breach, they are a welcome counter to the erratic and unstable UKIP party. UKIP are riding a wave of popularity thanks to their snappy soundbites and playing the fear card much like the far right of the Republican wing in America. The problem they have is finding viable candidates who can keep their genuine views under wraps long enough to gain momentum. It seems like they take one step forward before drunkenly stumbling backwards yelling racial epithets. They do manage to appeal to a lot of the more fringe voters in the Conservative party but the other side of that coin is that the make the Tories appear to be positively reasonable in comparison. Cameron can afford to move further to the right and still appear to have centrist appeal in comparison to the beer swilling Farage.

I would love to come up with something interesting to say about the Liberal Democrats, especially seeing as I voted for them in the last election. But I was clearly caught up in the excitement of the TV debates and foolishly thought that they would be able to exert any kind of influence. Instead they acted as a patsy for the Conservatives and allowed them to place the blame for many things squarely on their shoulders. Never before has a party had such a terrible turnaround and it is difficult to see anyway back at this election. A strange case of a party much better served by a poor showing, who can crawl away to lick their wounds and come back with a more focused plan of what the party stands for and where they plan on going.

Finally I come to Labour and the almost unelectable Ed Milliband. A man who even takes stick for indulging in that most British of traditions of a bacon sandwich and a cup of tea. It really says something about the disdain in which Cameron is held that the least inspiring Miliband brother is neck and neck in the polls as we speak. The UK is more naturally a slightly left leaning country, as is most of Europe with the firm approval of a welfare state and national health service. For some reason Cameron seems to fear the debates, but that is probably just stalling on the part of the PR team to make him appear somewhat more inept to lower expectations. Miliband is not a bad public speaker and I see nothing more than a dull no score draw coming from these debates between the big 2. The entertainment will lie in the smaller parties all vying for attention, I for one love the debates and the attention it garners from the masses. Normally people are not willing to discuss politics and will glaze over with remarkable speed when you try to broach the subject. This at least seems to inspire people into an opinion. Sadly that seems to be about the best we can hope for nowadays, an opinion from people. Even if it is not based in anything approaching knowledge.