• The Sexual Occupation of Japan (paperback edition: The Deal)

    by Richard Setlowe

    HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 1999

    ISBN 0-06-018393-4 Buy This Book

    Paperback edition retitled The Deal Buy This Book

  • EXCERPT — FOREPLAY 1999: Death at the Love Hotel

    The evening I landed at Tokyo's Narita Airport from Los Angeles, Matami Okamatsu—the senior official at the Ministry of International Trade and Industry with whom I had scheduled a critical meeting checked into a love hotel in the Roppongi district with a young blonde the desk clerk later told police looked like the actress Sharon Stone.

    The love hotel, named Dreams Castle, has an elaborate stucco facade of rococo battlements and fairy tale turrets—a Japanese designer's fancy of a European medieval fortress. But the small, barren lobby with the unseen desk clerk behind darkened glass features only illuminated photographs of the hotel's fantasy suites. Okamatsu had already reserved the chamber named Malibu Nights. The blonde carried an elaborately wrapped package, possibly a gift from her admirer or a costume for the tryst.

    Malibu Nights is decorated in Art Deco furnishings of black and gold, with matching black and gold statuettes of Erte-style nudes. The large circular bed covered in gold-dyed sheets rests on a raised platform with mirrors on two sides and on the ceiling. There are no windows, but large photographs of the California coast are backlighted in recesses framed by stylized fake palms. Hidden speakers emit a recording of surf.

    The sound is controlled with a remote control by the bed, which can switch the track to love themes from Hollywood movies, soften or raise the lighting, or turn on the TV to the porno movies that run continuously on the hotel's private channel.

    The decor is stylish, deliberately designed to make lovers feel as if they are not really at Malibu but movie stars on a set—an erotic pretense that is larger, more tumescent, than real life.

    According to the Tokyo Metropolitan Police coroner's report, it apparently worked for Okamatsu-san. Either before or after having sex, he and the blonde drank two-thirds of a bottle of champagne chilled in a black and gold enamel ice bucket near the bed, and the Sharon Stone look-alike departed shortly thereafter, at the doorway slipping out of fleece-lined sandals and back into the flat shoes young Western women wear in Tokyo so as not to loom larger than their Japanese escorts. She left the spent Okamatsu-san naked in the still-vibrating bed to nap—as the MITI official was not a young man—or perhaps contemplating the possibility of AIDS—as he had not used a condom in a city where there is a seldom-spoken-of miniepidemic.

    Within a few minutes of the blonde's exit, a young man with short-cropped hair bound with a black hachimaki, wearing a black T-shirt, black jeans, and Adidas running shoes, stole through the unlocked door. He carried in front of him a gleaming katana, the two-handed samurai sword.

    Suddenly abandoning the stealthy ninja approach, he shouted "Keep Japan pure!" and rushed forward, warning the dozing Okamatsu, who instinctively threw up his arms to block the blow.

    The razor-edged blade nearly severed both of Okamatsu's forearms, and blood splattered the golden sheets, the spotless mirrors, and the attacker. Okamatsu screamed.

    "Traitor, traitor," the swordsman cursed, and thrust the blade into Okamatsu's stomach. But the stabbing, rather than killing the old man, only seemed to heighten the pitch of his screams.

    The young man lowered his sword, stunned. The assassination attempt had degenerated into a noisy, gory mess, and shame overwhelmed the assassin. But with humiliation, a wave of loathing for the old man washed over him. "Traitor," he shouted again, and chopped at Okamatsu's unprotected neck. The sword fatally hacked through the carotid artery, spurting blood all over the killer's hair, face, and arms.

    Revolted, soaked, and dripping with the murdered man's blood, the young assassin bolted out the door, still gripping the katana with both hands. He careened into the hallway of the Dreams Castle, where a dozen couples, interrupted in their amours by Okamatsu's screams, gaped at him from the doorways of their fantasy chambers.


    Copyright © Richard Setlowe, 1999



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