Monday, September 4, 2017

Japan: The Yakuza

The Yakuza are not secret societies. Japan’s oldest yakuza group has existed for over 147 years. Japanese police launched the first serious crackdown on them in 1964. There are 22 organizations that are regulated ... but not banned. Japan’s National Police Agency lists the addresses and the name of each organization's top boss on its web page. Each yakuza group is a male only family structure, with the top boss being the oyabun (father) and relationships forged over sake rituals which cement ties between the oyabun and his children (kobun).
The oyabun has absolute power.
The yakuza make the bulk of their money from extortion, real estate fraud, blackmail, insider trading, loan sharking, entertainment business management, drugs, and illegal gambling. They have powerful political connections. Top yakuza members carry business cards, fan magazines cover their exploits, comic books are sold in convenience stores about their lives and gang conflicts. The video game series by Sega is popular world-wide.
New ordinances passed nationwide in October 2011 made it a crime to do business with the yakuza or pay them off. That makes it difficult for low-level thugs to have a phone, a bank account, or rent an apartment. So official numbers are down.

On April 30, Yoshinori Oda, formerly an underboss in the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, held a press conference to announce that he and other like-minded yakuza, were forming a new yakuza group, that would live up to the traditional principles expounded by the Godfather of Godfathers, Kazuo Taoka.