Fukuoka convenience stores to remove yakuza mags

Fan magazines and comic books glorify the yakuza in Japan
Fan magazines and comic books glorify the yakuza in Japan

Fukuoka prefectural police requested March 25 that convenience stores in the prefecture no longer stock yakuza fan magazines. Four chains have already begun removing the products from their racks, while two more say they will do so beginning next month.The stores include Lawson, Family Mart, Mini Stop, Popular, Daily Yamazaki and Circle K Sankus.

According to police, a crime prevention group requested in December 2009 that convenience stores and book stores stop carrying the publications, citing that several monthly magazines “glamorize organized crime and may encourage youth to join the groups.”

Officials insist they do not intend to censor freedom of expression, and that the move is purely voluntary. Some warn, however, that the move opens the door for possible censorship in the future.

Read the original article here.

Yakuza cause stir at sumo match

The Mainichi reported on Jan. 26 about an uproar (if it can be called that) in the sumo world after Sumiyoshi-kai members were spotted occupying ringside tomari-seki seats at the New Year’s sumo tournament on Jan. 18 in Ryogoku, Tokyo.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police Department spotted the head of the gang affiliated with the Sumiyoshi-kai syndicate at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan on Jan. 18. He moved after being prompted to do so by one of the information desk staff.

The gang boss was sitting in one of the ringside guest seats on the south side of the ring. These seats are normally reserved for individuals and companies that have contributed a certain amount to the Japan Sumo Association (JSA), and are not on sale to the public.

Police told reporters an interesting tidbit of information as to why they want to keep the mob out of the arena:

暴力団関係者が維持員席での観戦にこだわる理由について、捜査幹部は「相撲中継は刑務所でも見ることができる。土俵に近い維持員席はテレビに映りやすく、自分の姿を見せて服役中の組員を勇気づける狙いがあるのでは」と分析する。

Investigators said they deny organized crime members access to seats for donators because they believe that, “Sumo is broadcast even in jail; by sitting close to the ring and appearing on TV, gang leaders hope to cheer up and show support to members that are serving time.”

(From the Japanese Mainichi article)

Authorities are currently negotiating with the JSA as to whether or not they can prohibit yakuza in the general admission seats as well.

Police and the Japan Sumo Association have been actively trying to oust the yakuza from sumo since last July, when authorities were shocked to see elder members of the Yamaguchi-gumi sitting ringside at a tournament in Nagoya. The JSA made their first-ever retaliation against the yakuza in September at the annual autumn tournament, posting a sign denying entry to organized crime members. In October the group ammended their contracts with seat holders, adding a clause that allowed them to terminate special seats of anyone found to be related to the yakuza.

With some appropriate timing, there’s currently another frenzy going on regarding ex-yokozuna Takanohana, now a JSA member, who is currently steeped on controversey after he announced his intention to run for the JSA board of directors and was tossed out of the Nishonoseki stable group. Recently, weekly photo magazine “Flash” published photos of Takanohana at an event in Kobe in August, 2008, sitting next to a “head of an organized crime group.” Takanohana told the press that he was “invited be long-time supporters, and went because it was a memorial service for those who died in the Kobe earthquake.”

More info at Nikkan Sports (Japanese only)

Failed pick-up line: "I'm a yakuza boss"

Sankei News reported that a 34-year-old man was charged with rape after a rather dodgy incident where he told a woman that he was a yakuza member and forced her to have sex with him last December.

Naoki Kambara, a part-time worker at a shipping company, threatened a young woman on a street in Tokyo’s Kokubunji City on Dec. 17, telling her that he was the “number two” of a yakuza group. He forced her into a public toilet where he performed obscene acts on her before bringing her to a nearby hotel and raping her.

According to police, Kambara got her mobile email address, sending her a text on Dec. 23 saying he’d “like to meet again.” Police set a time and a place for the two to meet again, arresting him when he showed up on Dec. 27.

What did they arrest Kambara on? Suspicion of a similar crime committed in November, where he reportedly used similar means to rape a girl in her teens. Brilliant! He admitted to both charges.

Read the original story here. (Japanese only)