Local areas to beef up anti-organized crime legislature

There was news this week of four prefectures working on additional legislative measures to stop organized crime organizations from working their way into the operations and offices of legitimate businesses.

In Ehime, it was reported by the Mainichi that on Dec. 15 the prefectural government started a project team for the creation of a prefecture ordinance to eliminate organized crime (県暴力団排除条例総合対策プロジェクト). The ordinance will reportedly be based on Fukuoka Prefecture’s anti-organized crime ordinance (to be put into effect next March), but contain special regulations aimed at eliminating yakuza groups from interfering with local festivals and fireworks events. The team, which is composed of police investigators from the anti-organized crime division, say they will have a proposal for the ordinance presented at the prefectural assembly meeting next February.

In nearby Hiroshima, a small town called Sera unanimously approves an ordinance (町暴力団事務所等の開設の防止に関する条例) Dec. 14 that protects local property who have dealt with dirty purchasers or leasers, allowing a contract to be dissolved or for property to be repurchased if it’s found that the property is being used as an office for yakuza business. It is the duty of real estate agents to do the appropriate due diligence to ensure they’re not dealing with a crime group, but if a property is found to be occupied by a group through no fault of the owner, police will cooperate in removing the renter. The Asahi reports that the ordinance, which goes into effect Jan. 1, is the first of its kind in the prefecture, and similar to one passed in Saga Prefecture earlier this year.

And most recently, on Dec. 17 the Nagasaki prefectural assembly chewed on an ordinance proposed by police to help prevent organized crime groups from opening offices in the area (県暴力団事務所等の排除に関する条例). According to the Asahi, the ordinance follows a case where a local Yakuza group, the Kyushu Seido-kai, was kicked out of a building in Sasebo City after locals complained to law enforcement officials in July. Also similar to the ordinance in effect in Saga, the Nagasaki ordinance differs in that due diligence is not only the obligation of the real estate agent, but also any company that does construction or renovation work on the property. The government aims to have the bill come into effect next spring.

Welcome!

A look at Japan's underworld from a reporter who covered it for over a decade.
inside japan's underworld

Hello to all the viewers of 60 Minutes or the readers of the Washington Post who have stopped by after seeing the program and/or reading the article. We’d like to thank Lara Logan and the rest of the CBS News crew for visiting Tokyo, and hope everyone enjoyed the segment!

Browse around the site to learn more about the case of Tadamasa Goto and the rest of the Japanese underworld, and don’t forget to check out information about Jake Adelstein’s new book Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan.

For those who have yet to see the 60 Minutes feature on yakuza, it’s available for online viewing here.

Economics 101: The Yakuza Barometer

A look at why the yakuza hitting the books is a sure-fire sign that the economy is hitting rock bottom, by Bloomberg’s William Pesek, with added flavor from Jake Adelstein.

Oct. 7 (Bloomberg) — Japan’s underworld can tell you a lot about what’s happening in the legitimate economy.

Gangsters are on the run as growth wanes and deflation worsens. Yet the oddest development by far involves yakuza members sitting for exams covering key aspects of their work.

If you think this is just a law-enforcement issue, think again. It’s a sign Japan’s funk will be longer than economists predict. That may surprise those betting Japan is recovering. Oddly, though, the plight of gangsters tells the story.

Huddled over legal texts and documents isn’t the popular image of Japan’s storied mobsters. When they aren’t collecting debts, shaking down shop owners, overseeing prostitution rings or rigging stocks, members of Japan’s biggest organized crime group, Yamaguchi-gumi, are studying for 12-page tests.

Yakuza’s Series 7 Exam Is Harbinger for Economy [via Bloomberg]

Hard Times For A Nine-Fingered Man

from http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/japan/090205/even-gangsters-get-the-blues

Even gangsters get the blues

As Japan’s economy weakens, what are 80,000 gang members to do?

By Justin McCurry

Published: February 5, 2009 18:35 ET

TOKYO — Kazuhiro Yamada may describe himself as an innocent victim of the recession, but he is unlikely to win much sympathy.

Until he lost his job last year, Yamada, who prefers not to reveal his real name, was a member of the Sumiyoshi-kai, one of Japan’s most notorious crime syndicates, or yakuza.

As a mid-ranking mobster in greater Tokyo, his duties included shaking down businesses for protection money, chauffeuring his bosses around town and, on occasion, providing muscle when his gang’s relations with associates threatened to turn sour.

Then, at short notice, he was unceremoniously dumped for not paying his dues, a non-negotiable condition of yakuza membership from the lowliest mobster to the men at the very apex of their criminal careers.

“Without the organization behind me, what am I supposed to do? Who’s going to hire an old man covered in tattoos with a missing digit?” he says of his vanished pinkie, hacked off in a ritual act of penitence for a past misdeed he’d rather not discuss.

Continue reading Hard Times For A Nine-Fingered Man

Tokyo set for a turf war as recession-hit yakuza gangsters fight it out

 

Gang wars used to be a chance for young yakuza to rise up in the organization. Kill a man, do your time, and come out a boss. However, court decisions in the last few years have made crime bosses liable for damages inflicted by their soldiers. This has discouraged skirmishes. It can be very expensive if your soldier kills the wrong person.

Leo Lewis in Tokyo

An attractive residential backstreet, a highly desirable postcode and a hugely provocative bit of corporate relocation could unleash a murderous gang war on the streets of Tokyo.

Veteran observers of Japanese organised crime are predicting a sharp increase in violence in the coming weeks as two rival yakuza crime syndicates threaten to battle it out for supremacy of the protection, prostitution and drugs rackets in the centre of the city. Continue reading Tokyo set for a turf war as recession-hit yakuza gangsters fight it out

Human Trafficking In Japan: An Older Report But Still Worth Reading

From 2006 to 2007, I worked on US State Department sponsored project to study human trafficking in Japan, and contributed a large portion of the final report. At the time, Japan had serious problems with a thriving trafficking industry.  I would reluctantly have to say that things have improved a great deal since the original report was written. Human trafficking in Japan hasn’t been eradicated but there seem to be fewer victims and the harsher penalties and enforcement have made it a less profitable business venture. However, you may find the report interesting in its discussions of links between anti-social elements and Japanese politicians. The link to the documentary and the printed report should be available by clicking the red map of Japan. 

The Kabukicho area used to be a hot bed of human trafficking but like many parts of Tokyo, it has been cleaned up considerably.
The Kabukicho area used to be a hot bed of human trafficking but like many parts of Tokyo, it has been cleaned up considerably.

 

This report, while now out of date, does give good insight into Japan's sex industry and the criminal elements involved in it.
This report from 2007 does give good insight into Japan's sex industry and the political and anti-social forces that make the industry ripe for exploitation.

Happy New Year! 今年もよろしく

Takayama Wakagashira : The Defacto Leader of the Yamaguchi-gumi is alive and well….more or less.

 2009 should be an interesting year for us all and an especially interesting year in the world of organized crime. Around the close of the year, Takayama Kiyoshi (高山清司), the number two in the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest organized crime group, collapsed at a “company function” and was briefly hospitalized in Kobe. The cause of his collapse was a heart-attack. Apparently, dealing with the failed coup by Goto and his minions and other issues creating conflict within the Yamaguchi-gumi have taken their toll on him.

 Rumors abounded that he was in critical condition or close to dying–but as you can see in these pictures, taken over the New Year–he is still very much alive.

 The ruler of the Yamaguchi-gumi, Tsukasa Shinobu, is also said to be in poor health, possibly suffering from prostate cancer.  Medical care in Japanese prisons is terrible so you can’t help but feel a little sorry for him if it’s true.  In any event, with the two defacto heads of the Yamaguchi-gumi in poor health–strife is sure to follow. 

 

 

The second photo is from the Yamaguchi-gumi’s annual rice cake making festival (餅つき大会)which is open to the public, and usually performed in front of their massive Kobe Headquarters. Who can dislike gangsters that make such delicious traditional Japanese treats?

 

January 1st, 2009. The Yamaguchi-gumi tries to maintain good relations with the local populace through events like this.
January 1st, 2009. The Yamaguchi-gumi tries to maintain good relations with the local populace through events like this.

Yakuza bosses take legal classes to evade strict new law

by Justin McCurry (from THE GUARDIAN) 

 

The Yamaguchi-gumi symbol.
(The Yamaguchi-gumi symbol. Often used in a badge to identify members and intimidate civilians. New laws make displaying the symbol very risky for the yakuza and their bosses)

Japan’s most powerful gangsters are mugging up on legal terminology in an attempt to skirt strict new laws that make them liable for crimes committed by their henchmen.

The country’s top three crime syndicates are believed to have hired former prosecutors to teach them the finer points of the law, which was introduced after the assassination of the mayor of Nagasaki, Iccho Ito, by a gangster last April. Continue reading Yakuza bosses take legal classes to evade strict new law

Living With The Mob: Yakuza Deeply Rooted In Japan

 

The Tattooed Men are not easy to live with.
Once the yakuza move in, they don't move out easily.

YAKUZA WARS

by David McNeill and Jake Adelstein

A bloody dispute between two rival Yakuza groups in a southern Japanese city has led to a historic fight-back by local people.  But rooting out the mob from society will not be easy. Continue reading Living With The Mob: Yakuza Deeply Rooted In Japan

From the Times Online: Yakuza stalk Japanese markets as organised crime opens new front

From The Times
August 28, 2008

By Leo Lewis, Asia Business Correspondent

Japan’s powerful yakuza organised crime syndicates are mounting a widespread assault on the country’s financial markets that may have left hundreds of listed companies riddled with mob connections.

In a surprisingly stark admission, the National Police Agency (NPA) says that it is locked in a battle for the economic soul and international reputation of Japan. Continue reading From the Times Online: Yakuza stalk Japanese markets as organised crime opens new front