Tozawa’s “Mysterious” Illness Was Revealed in Tokyo Vice’s First Scene Itself

Tozawa’s “Mysterious” Illness Was Revealed in Tokyo Vice’s First Scene Itself

Tokyo Vice is all about Jake Adelstein’s misadventures as a Western journalist investigating Japan’s crime world. While no yakuza character is entirely amiable, Tozawa goes above and beyond to be the worst possible person in the show. But as unsavory as he is, he isn’t invincible.

Throughout the season, Tozawa is seen suffering from a mysterious illness which no one save his doctors and mistress know about. What could it possibly be? Will he survive it?

It is believed that Tozawa’s character is inspired by yakuza member, Tadamasa Goto, who suffered from a kidney ailment. Since Goto recovered from his surgery, Tozawa too is expected to stay alive in Tokyo Vice S2.

The show creators have stated that none of the characters are actually based on any of the real-life people mentioned in Aldelstein’s book.

I don’t think that’s particularly true. In fact, I’m going to do you another solid and tell you how Tozawa’s illness is connected to the very first opening scene of Tokyo Vice.

Tozawa’s Illness Is Connected to His Betrayal

While most of Tokyo Vice takes place in 1999, its very first (and very unresolved) scene takes place in 2001. Katagiri and Jake are called in for a yakuza meeting, where they’ve been ordered to drop the story/investigation they’re doing around Tozawa.

Tozawa’s Illness is Connected to His Betrayal
Tozawa | Source: IMDb

Many believe that Tozawa is based on Tadamasa Goto, a former member of the infamous Yamaguchi-gumi yakuza—who took center stage in Aldelstein’s The Washington Post exposé, and novel.

The biggest clue perhaps is the similarity in timelines that both Tozawa and Goto share. In Adelstein’s real-life exposé, he wrote about how in 2001, Goto was allowed into the US for kidney surgery at UCLA, in exchange for Yamaguchi-gumi-related information.

The exposé also explained how the government allowed Goto to jump the line and receive a kidney, which resulted in the death of the other patients on the waitlist.

At the end of Tokyo Vice S1, we see Tozawa too taking off for a similar trip. Mind you, we don’t know the destination, but I’m willing to bet he’s going travelling for surgery. After all, his demeanor was extra cocky, and he even threatened Mizaki that “He’ll live for a longer time.”

As depicted in the first scene, the yakuza have found out that in order to get operated within the US, Towaza made a deal and betrayed them by feeding the FBI information about them. As a means of damage control, they’re now trying to scare off Jake and stop him from publishing his exposé.

As for which exact kidney ailment Towaza is suffering from, the general consensus is that it may be liver cirrhosis. One of the symptoms is the rash we see on his face, which is likely to be rosacea or telangiectasias.

Tozawa “Mysterious” Illness Was Revealed in Tokyo Vice’s 1st Scene Itself
Tozawa | Source: IMDb

The reason he got an ultrasound done is to check for liver cancer, as it can commonly occur with cirrhosis. If detected early, this can be treated by a liver transplant.

Given that Goto’s own surgery was a success and he is still alive, Towaza may end up surviving as well. He is expected to return to Tokyo Vice S2, guns blazing, ready to cause more chaos for Katagiri, Jake, and of course, Ishida.

Watch Tokyo Vice on:

About Tokyo Vice

Tokyo Vice is an HBO crime drama series created by J.T. Rogers based on Jake Alderstein’s 2009 book of the same name. 

It follows a fictionalized Alderstein, who becomes the first Western-born journalist to work at a renowned Japanese newspaper. Here, he teams up with a veteran detective to uncover the crimes of the yakuza. 

The cast includes Ansel Elgort, Ken Watanabe, Rachel Keller, Show Kasamatsu, among others.