Fletcher in the News

Ball and Chain: Prof. Sung-Yoon Lee Weighs in on Gambling in Japan

Sung-Yoon Lee is the Kim Koo-Korea Foundation Professor in Korean Studies and Assistant Professor at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University

Unable to overcome his compulsion to play pachinko, long-time Tokyo expat Wayne Smith created an unconventional strategy to limit his ability to gamble away his hard-earned money — keep all his cash in rolls of ¥500 coins…

…Although pachinko is very much a Japanese invention, the inspiration for it came from the Corinth Game, a children’s game based on bagatelle that was developed in the United States and imported to Japan in 1924...

…Yet the nascent life of the game was to be short-lived and all pachinko parlors were closed by the government in 1938 in a bid to aid the “war effort.”

It wasn’t until 1946 that pachinko had its second birth…

…According to Sung-Yoon Lee, professor of Korean studies at the Fletcher School at Tufts University and a pachinko historian, the game’s genesis in Nagoya may also explain its often-talked-about Korean connection. Lee says Nagoya was heavily bombed during World War II because it was a major industrial city and the largest manufacturer of combat aircraft in the country.

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