Jake Adelstein, author of Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter On The Police Beat in Japan, looks at the yakuza these days in his column in the Japan Times.
A number of theories have been put forward on the reasons behind the 2015 split of the country’s largest crime syndicate, the Yamaguchi-gumi.
Some say the factions that left the organization and formed a group called the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi were egged on by the police, who had deliberately encouraged suspicions to grow among rival syndicates. It’s worth noting that police officers stood guard outside the new group’s headquarters when it announced its existence to the public.
Others believe the split was supported by several former Yamaguchi-gumi syndicate bosses who had been expelled with Tadamasa Goto in 2008. Those involved in organized crime call the cull the “Goto Shock,” a nod to the collapse of Lehman Brothers in the same year. Indeed, Goto allegedly bankrolled the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, allowing the new organization to get up and running.
And then there’s Morimasa Ohta, a syndicate leader who had been banished with Goto before eventually joining the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi as a boss. Ohta’s tell-all memoir, “Ketsubetsu” (“Blood Parting“) which was published in July 2015, weeks before the split, is now believed to have been a call to revolt. The book sales have since become problematic because Ohta had retired from organized crime when it was published. Now that he’s joined the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, however, Ohta’s royalty payments could contradict legislation on organized crime. The law prohibits payments to anyone involved in a crime syndicate.
Yet, none of these theories completely explain why the veteran Yamaguchi-gumi members decided to leave the powerful crime syndicate when they were nearing the end of their careers.
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