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The Yakuza February 9, 2007

Posted by David in Japan.

Admittedly, when it comes to the underworld I am not over-flowing with knowledge but I have always assumed that once in the mob always in the mob, and that it was a 24/7 type of deal. Apparently I am wrong.

According to a February 9, 2007 article published in The Japan Times, “last year saw ‘part-time’ yakuza outnumber their full-time mob counterparts for the first time ever”. Part-time? Yes, the article describes these individuals as “those not directly affiliated with the mob” and as of December 2006, “full-time yakuza numbered 41,500, while part-timers increased to 43,200.”

Amazing! How does the NPA come up with such specific data? For example they know that there are 3 main groups, the “Yamaguchi-gumi, Sumiyoshi-kai and Inagawa-kai” operating in Japan. Together their numbers amount to around 61,600 or 73 percent “of the nation’s underworld ranks”.

The NPA must have one heck-of-an intelligence gathering team. Right? Maybe not, because in another yakuza-related story (also in The Japan Times 09-02-2007) it was stated that “Kobe-based Yamaguchi-gumi and Tokyo-based Sumiyoshi-kai separately reported to the Metropolitan Police Department on Thursday afternoon that they made peace in the wake of Monday’s gunning down of a senior Sumiyoshi-kai member.”

I’m curious how this was done. By e-mail? It also leads me to wonder about the relationship between Japan’s yakuza and police agencies.

I realize that essentially the “yakuza, like mobsters worldwide, are involved in extortion, gambling, the sex industry, gunrunning, drug-trafficking, and real estate and construction kickback schemes.” However, I am interested in learning more of the relationship the yakuza has with Japanese law-enforcement and the country in general.

Is it very similar to the Italian and/or Russian mob and North America? I guess I’ll look into it a bit more… Can anyone recommend a good place to start?



1. Shingen - February 13, 2007

I must admit, the first time I saw the membership figures of the Yakuza, I wondered how they had worked it out. The figures you cite are even more puzzling. Supposedly the statistics are garnered from confiscated membership rolls and ordinary police intelligence… There is something about it here: http://www.japansociety.org/corporate/event_corp_note.cfm?id_note=1800565501

It discusses the Anti-Buryokudan Law (1993) and it’s requirement that Yakuza members register with the government (although affiliates are not so required). How is this enforced?

As for the reporting to the MPD, it may be a simple tip-off system. The two groups could benefit from such reports, taking the heat off them. Perhaps they have a system in place for this, just as Special Branch kept a number for the Provisional IRA in Northern Ireland.

Still, it’s all a mystery!

Some other possible sources:

Please write something up if you discover some answers.

2. canexafish - February 13, 2007


Thanks for the links. I’ll be sure to review them, and try to learn more about the yakuza and how they “fit” into the whole Japanese society.

Once I have anything worthwhile I’ll post it.

By the way, you made a good point about the yakuza reporting to the police agencies. It may indeed help keep the heat off them.



3. koda7 - March 6, 2007

I read that “money laundering is not a crime in Japan, so the investigations into the money angles of the yakuza will be extremely difficult.”

Is this true?

Can anyone enlighten me on this.

Also read this article its interesting: http://www.tomcoyner.com/yakuza.html

4. Shingen - March 7, 2007
5. Shingen - March 7, 2007

Well, it is certainly an issue that the Japanese are aware of: http://www.fsa.go.jp/fiu/fiue/fme001.html

The current state of anti-money laundering in Japan is described here: http://www.anti-moneylaundering.org/Countrydetailprint.asp?countryid=182

…and in greater detail here: http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/scr/2004/cr04187.pdf

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs outlines the plan: http://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/i_crime/measure0011.html

…although there is still some way to go: http://www.breitbart.com/news/2007/03/01/D8NJJ2200.html

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