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Book Review: 'Speed Tribes: Days and Nights With Japan's Next Generation'

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A half-Jewish, half-Japanese Tokyo correspondent for The Nation, Karl Taro Greenfeld uses the term speed tribes to describe ”Japan’s discontented youth” who came of age during the nation’s economic boom of the late 1980s. They include gangsters and porn stars, fascists and computer hackers, drug dealers and a rock band. Although he describes them colorfully, Greenfeld brings little critical insight to these urban subcultures, beyond the well-worn observation that a repressive society produces strange fruit. And as peculiar as many are, some of these bottom- feeders are no more remarkable than garden-variety American criminals. This is an appetizing introduction to an intriguing subject, but like sushi, it leaves you hungry for something more. B