THE INVESTIGATION OF staffers from the 21st Century financial news website in connection with allegations that they were involved in efforts to blackmail companies in return for favorable news coverage prompts a reminiscence from our man in Tokyo. Back in Japan’s go-go years in the 1980s, yakuza worked a similar extortion racket. They would inform a business that they had produced a special-edition newsletter or magazine — no web sites then — devoted to the affairs of that company. Needless to say, the tone of the coverage would not be flattering. An appropriate payment would ensure that the edition could be bought up or pulped in its entirety. Eventually, the system was refined to eliminate the printing and pulping, if not the payment.