Monday, March 10, 2014

Where Have Japan's Yakuza Gone?

Jake Adelstein, author of Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter On the Police Beat in Japan, and Nathalie-Kyoko Stucky offer a piece on the current state of Japan's organized crime group, the yakuza, for the Daily Beast. 

The number of yakuza, Japan’s organized crime group members, hit its lowest record since the country’s first anti-organized crime laws passed in 1992, the National Police Agency announced this week. The number of yakuza had hovered around 80,000 for almost 18 years up to 2011 but the nationwide criminalization of paying the yakuza or doing business with them has dealt a blow to these quasi-legal organizations. However, like many things in Japan, the statistics and the reality are always slightly askew.

According to the National Police Agency, yakuza membership peaked in 1963, at approximately 184,100 members. Since the implementation of the anti-organized crime laws in 1992, the number of active members “has been approximately at the same level” of roughly 80,000. But by the end of 2011 membership was starting to seriously decline down to 70,300 members. (32,700 regular members and 37,600 associates.)     

Their primary sources of revenue are extortion, racketeering, financial fraud, blackmail, stock market manipulation, drugs, the entertainment business, sports industry, film and television production, and providing labor and security to the nuclear industry. The yakuza were traditionally federations of gamblers (bakuto) and street merchants (tekiya). They acted as a second police force in the chaos after the Second World War, gaining some legitimacy. They are called boryokudan, 暴力団 (violent groups) by the police but they refer themselves “yakuza” “gokudo” and as ninkyodantai 仁侠団体 (humanitarian groups) and claim that they contribute to preserving peace in Japan, and emergency aid when natural catastrophes hit the country.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

You can also read my Crime Beat column on Jake Adelstein and his book Tokyo Vice via the below link:

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