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The Man with the Red Tattoo, first published in 2002, was the sixth and final original novel by Raymond Benson featuring Ian Fleming's secret agent, James Bond (including film novelisations). Carrying the Ian Fleming Publications copyright, it was first published in the United Kingdom by Hodder & Stoughton and in the United States by Putnam. It was later published in Japan in 2003.

After the publication of The Man with the Red Tattoo, Benson wrote the novelisation of Die Another Day which was published later in the year. The following Bond stories would feature a teenage James Bond in the 1930s titled Young Bond.

Benson at one time had plans to release a collection of his James Bond short stories, but after abruptly announcing his retirement in early 2003 from writing Bond novels, the project was never pursued. Not counting novelisations and short story collections, The Man with the Red Tattoo marks the 35th original James Bond novel since Ian Fleming introduced the character nearly 50 years earlier.


On a flight from Japan to the United Kingdom, a young Japanese woman dies of a mysterious illness. James Bond finds out that not only was she the daughter of an important Japanese businessman, but her entire family is also dead. James Bond travels to Japan in search of the killer. Here Bond re-meets with his longtime friend Tiger Tanaka and now pursues the mystery of the businessman's family, the runaway daughter, rival businesses and a Japanese Nationalist terrorist plotting in the background.

Plot summary[]


On a plane taking off from Japan to England, a young woman named Kyoko McMahon starts feeling ill. She dies during the flight, and later, members of her family are also found dead at their residence in Tokyo.

James Bond is in the company of Major Boothroyd, who is presenting him with his gadgets. Bond's personal assistant, Nigel Smith, informs him that he is expected by M. At M's office, M tells that the Prime Minister has been instructed to take him as the bodyguard for the top-secret G8 Summit in Japan.

Tiger Tanaka has the task of providing protection for the world leaders arriving in Tokyo for the upcoming G8 Summit and asks MI6 to assign his friend, Bond, to safeguard the British Prime Minister. Apparently, the summit is threatened by Goro Yoshida (whom Bond had indirectly fought in the prior novel, Never Dream of Dying), who believes that Japan has lost its traditional values and is being “poisoned” by the West.

M asks Bond to the bodyguard operation as cover to investigate the deaths of McMahon family, whom have all died to a unknown and very dangerous form of influenza. The family patriarch, Peter McMahon, was married to a Japanese woman and is the owner of CureLab, a chemical company based in Tokyo.

Before leaving for Japan, Bond visits the coroner who is handling the Kyoko McMahon case. The coroner is unsure what the girl has died to. Then, armed men arrive, who try to take away Kyoko McMahon's body. Bond intervenes and notices a Yakuza tattoo on the body of one of the men he killed.


The helicopter of Yasutake Tsukamoto, "kancho" (leader) of the Ryujin-kai yakuza clan, lands in the Kuril Islands. He comes to visit Goro Yoshida who is the "Yami Shogun". Yoshida is a man who has a large red tattoo, which covers some 80% of his body, and is the secret leader of Yonai Enterprises.

He wanted to get his hands on a rival company, CureLab Inc. He asks Tsukamoto to kill Peter McMahon's only living daughter, Mayumi, and presents him with twenty men who are ready to sacrifice themselves to accomplish Yohida's plan.

Bond is greeted by Reiko Tamura, a special agent, at a Tokyo airport. She brings him to Tanaka, who is dining at his residence near the Yoyogi Park. He reveals to Bond that he has health problems and that he is no longer really at the head of the Japanese Public Security Intelligence Agency.

After a meal, Tanaka briefs Bond on the Ryujin-kai and Yonai Enterprises' desire to acquire CureLab Inc. Tanaka then tells that the CureLab company is likely to be inherited by Peter's runaway daughter, Mayumi McMahon. Mayumi is known for somewhat rowdy personality and is part of a motorcycle gang. He tells Bond that the vice president of CureLab is Shinji Fujimoto - a member of the McMahon family - and that there was a fire in the morgue which contained the family's bodies. He also gives him the name of Takuya Abo who is the cousin of Mayumi's ex-boyfriend.

Investigation begins[]

Bond and Tanaka go to the McMahon family residence, investigating the place and ask Shinji Fujimoto a few questions. Tanaka suddenly receives a phone call, saying that Mayumi's ex-boyfriend Kenji Umeki, who had agreed to help them find her, has been found dead.

Bond and Tanaka go to the crime scene in Kabuki-chō (the red light district), where they find Reiko. Tanaka has to leave and Bond visits the surroundings with Reiko. A biker suddenly tries to run them over on purpose then several other bikers from the same gang appear and chase them. They want Bond and Reiko to leave the neighborhood, which they do.

The next day, Bond and Reiko go to visit the cousin of Mayumi's ex-boyfriend, Takuya Abo, and ask him questions. He tells them that Mayumi works in a soapland in Sapporo and that Goro Yoshida is planning something with the Ryujin-kai. While he was going to tell them where Yoshida is, he is shot in the head by Noburo Ichihara, one of the bikers. Bond and Reiko pursue the shooter, but Reiko is injured in the process. Bond pursues Ichihara to a kabuki theater but he manages to escape.

Fujimoto's trap[]

Returning to his hotel, 007 is approached by Shinji Fujimoto. The latter tells him that he has information on Mayumi. Bond accompanies him to CureLab headquarters but Fujimoto knocks him out. When 007 regains consciousness, Fujimoto questions him about the nature of his mission in Japan. Bond doesn't reveal anything interesting and Fujimoto tells him that something is going to happen at the Kōtoku-in Daibutsu in Kamakura.

Fujimoto leaves after asking his men, which include Ichihara, to kill him. Using gadgets created by Department Q, Bond escapes and kills or overpowers his attackers. He downloads files from a computer that is dealing with a project that involves mosquitoes, escapes from CureLab headquarters and joins Tiger Tanaka.

Bond and Tanaka travel to Kamakura where they observe Fujimoto meeting with the president of Yonai Enterprises, as well as a "kappa-like" dwarf named Junji Kon. They decide to follow Fujimoto. They lose him for a moment, and when they find Fujimoto, he is dead, with no trace of the briefcase he had been given by Tsukamoto at Yonai Enterprises.


As the merger between CureLab and Yonai Enterprises is announced on television, Bond receives a briefing on the mosquitoes that can deliver the virus. He takes the train with Reiko to go to Hokkaido where the Hokkaido Mosquito and Vector Control Center is located, a public health facility which name appeared at the CureLab. Tanaka however, leaves for the island of Naoshima, the location chosen to host the G8.

During the journey, they see that Junji Kon is also on the train. Bond sneaks into the dwarf's compartment, finds a box filled with mosquitoes and takes it with him.

On the train, Bond and Reiko start making love. While doing so, Junji Kon presses a button on a remote control which activates a device that releases the mosquitoes from the box. Bond and Reiko manage to escape, 007 chases Kon into the Seikan tunnel but he manages to escape. Reiko, has been bitten by a mosquito, and his hospitalized at the Goryo-kaku hospital. There, she dies shortly after in Bond's arms.


Devastated by grief, Bond goes to Sapporo to meet a local contact, Ikuo Yamamaru. He tells him that he found Mayumi and that Goro Yoshida is thought to be hiding in the Kuril Islands, which have been disputed for years between Russia and Japan.

Bond goes to soapland and, posing as a client, meets her. He tells her that the Ryujin-kai killed her parents and manages to convince her to leave with him.

After being chased by the Yakuza, Bond and Mayumi infiltrate the Hokkaido Mosquito and Vector Control Center. However, they are spotted and captured. Yasutake Tsukamoto connects them with Yoshida via video to hold a teleconference. Yoshida tells his plan to kill the G8 summit attendees with his mosquitoes. Afterwards, he has his men lock Bond and Mayumi in a mosquito tank. But thanks to Ikuo Yamamaru and the gadgets created by Q branch, they manage to escape.


After rescuing Mayumi and leaving in Tokyo, Bond heads to meet with Tiger Tanaka to Benesse House, on Naoshima Island. During the summit, Tanaka suffers a heart attack, which causes him to resign, leaving Bond to take command of the summit's security.

where the secret G8 summit is to take place. The conference begins but Junji Kon, who had previously infiltrated the building, has placed boxes containing mosquitoes.

Bond discovers that Junji Kon has inserted mosquito capsules into the ventilation systems and has the place evacuated. Suddenly, the mosquitoes are released and attack the people present at the conference. The VIPs are evacuated and Bond manages to locate and capture Junji Kon.

Kon reveals to him that Goro Yoshida has another plan, that twenty men are already on their way to the United States, where they will release mosquitoes in the country's major cities.

While the American authorities are notified and the men are arrested at the airports, Bond and Yoshi Nakayama (Tanaka's assistant) participate in a helicopter assault on Yoshida's residence in the Kuril Islands. The assault is a success but Yoshida is not found.

Mayumi accepts her burdensome inheritance and celebrates with an intense night of lovemaking with James Bond. In the morning they are woken up by Tsukamoto and Yoshida, who want to kill them. Bond is pitted in a katana duel against Yoshida, but is no match for him. As Yoshida is about to finish off Bond, Mayumi shoots Yoshida and overpowers Tsukamoto. Police sirens are heard in the distance and Goro Yoshida commits suicide by performing seppuku. Tsukamoto is arrested by the authorities.


  • James Bond
  • M
  • Tiger Tanaka
  • Goro Yoshida
  • Yasutake Tsukamoto
  • Reiko Tamura
  • Mayumi McMahon
  • Shinji Fujimoto
  • Junji Kon aka "The Kappa"
  • Noburo Ichihara
  • Ikuo Yamamaru
  • Yoshi Nakayama
  • Kenji Umeki
  • Takuya Abo
  • Nigel Smith


The people of Japan have always been big fans of James Bond so after being the main location for a second time (the first, Fleming's You Only Live Twice) the people and government of Naoshima (where the story takes place) erected a permanent museum to commemorate the novel and James Bond in general. "007 The Man With the Red Tattoo Museum" was opened on July 24, 2005 in the Kagawa Prefecture.

Additionally, the city of Naoshima has also begun a petition and committee (the "007 Location Promotion Committee") to EON Productions, the production company behind every official James Bond film starting in 1962 with Dr. No, to have a future Bond film take place in Japan.


According to a September 2003 article in the tabloid Daily Record, the 21st James Bond film was at one point going to be based upon this novel. The producers of the Bond films ultimately chose to title the film Casino Royale and base it upon Fleming's novel, and it's not known whether they ever seriously considered using Benson's novel as source material.

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