Tokyo Vice: How is Tozawa Alive? Is He Cured?

The third episode of the second season of Max’s crime drama series ‘Tokyo Vice’ ends with Shinzo Tozawa showing up in front of his mistress Misaki Taniguchi. His unexpected appearance startles Misaki, especially since he is presumed dead after disappearing from Tokyo with a mysterious illness. Considering his health condition at the time of his departure, his friends and foes believe that Tozawa has succumbed to his ailment. However, he doesn’t seem weak when he stands beside Misaki at the end of the episode. Does that mean he has completely recovered from his sickness? SPOILERS AHEAD.

Tozawa’s Recovery

Throughout the first season of the series, Shinzo Tozawa even struggles to stand straight at times. He has to rely on several doses of medication to do the bare minimum as a functioning man. That’s the reason why his general Yabuki believes that he is dead and proposes an alliance with Hitoshi Ishida and his Chihara-kai clan. But Tozawa unexpectedly shows up seemingly in Misaki’s apartment in the third episode of season 2. He stands straight beside his mistress without any indication of frailty. While the crime drama is yet to confirm whether he is completely cured, Alan Poul, one of the directors and executive producers of the show, revealed that Tozawa has taken care of his illness.

“[Tozawa’s illness] was not revealed in season one because that is part of the mystery I was alluding to before. So it is gradually revealed and will ultimately be made very clear what is wrong with him and what he did to take care of it,” Poul told Deadline. Since the series is a fictionalized version of a true story, the reality behind the characters helps us uncover how the Yakuza boss may have returned to Tokyo as a healthy man. First of all, Tozawa has a real-life counterpart: Tadamasa Goto, one of the most notorious Yakuza bosses of his generation. Like the character, Goto suffered from a life-threatening illness.

Goto had liver disease and a liver transplant became an inevitability for him to remain alive. Since the Japanese culture didn’t believe in organ donations in the early 2000s, he had to rely on treatment in the United States. However, because of his involvement in organized crime, Goto was barred from entering the United States. To receive quality treatment, he then struck a deal with the FBI. “Goto said, ‘Here’s the deal. I need to get in the United States to get my liver transplant or I’m gonna die. I will give you the names of all our front companies in the United States.’ So, in terms of not only criminal intelligence but sort of covert intelligence, Goto represented a real find for the FBI,” the real Jake Adelstein said while appearing in ‘60 Minutes.’

After the FBI sanctioned Goto’s entry to the United States, he received treatment from UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. Dr. Ronald W. Busuttil, executive chairman of UCLA’s surgery department in the early 2000s, performed a liver transplant surgery for Goto to regain his health with a new liver. The surgery was highly controversial, especially since he was #80 on the waiting list of potential recipients of liver transplants. In the year Goto received a new liver, 186 people in the Los Angeles region died without receiving one, as per U.S. transplant statistics. According to UCLA, Goto had to pay $400,000 for the transplant, in addition to a $100,000 donation he made to the transplant center.

However, as per Adelstein, Goto paid around a million dollars for the organ. Therefore, as far as the crime drama is concerned, we can expect Tozawa to reveal that he flew to the United States to receive adequate treatment and that he has recovered after undergoing an organ transplant surgery in one of the upcoming episodes. Possibly like Tozawa, Goto also returned to Japan as soon as he got a new liver but without satisfying the FBI. “As soon as he got his liver and was better, he [went] back to Japan. And he only gave the FBI a fraction of what he promised, maybe a 10th, maybe a 20th. Not a complete failure, but certainly not what the FBI wanted,” Adelstein added.

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