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‘The Informer’: Portrait of a pivotal period in Japan

by

Special To The Japan Times

Based on the true story of a stock trader, the 1965 novel “The Informer” is remarkably prescient in describing the greed and venality that was, two decades later, to become a hallmark of the delirious days of Japan’s bubble-era economy.

The Informer, by Akimitsu Takagi, Translated by Sadako Mizuguchi.
256 pages
SOHO CRIME, Fiction.

The 1960s saw the emergence of a new breed of business people. Most were legitimate, but among the good apples were a growing number of hustlers, embezzlers, double-dealers and, in Akimitsu Takagi’s tale, a character capable of personal betrayal without qualms.

Takagi is a superb descriptive writer, and it’s always a delight to savor the period detail he evokes in describing not only the superheated commercial air of Tokyo, but also its material features: railway stations, public parks and tenement blocks.

Takagi is sensitive to the shifting ’60s social mores, allowing his characters to fully engage in the newfound sexual freedoms. Creating a picture not just of a series of crimes, but an epoch, his analysis of market manipulations and industrial espionage offers insights into the business ethos of the times, but when murder is added to the mix, the novel turns into a compelling work of suspense.

Takagi never preaches, takes the high ground or judges the actions of his characters, but it’s quite clear on which side of the moral divide he stands.

Read archived reviews of Japanese classics at jtimes.jp/essential.