Perhaps to promote his new book, Habakarinagara (憚りながら）, Tadamasa Goto has been looking for some time in the limelight, apparently granting this interview on Yomiuri TV’s Takashin no Sokomade Itte Iinkai program.
–Why did you quit the Yamaguchi-gumi?
The time had come, and I took my chance.
–Why won’t boryokudan crime groups go away?
Young Japanese men are attracted to the idea of having the kind of allies found in gangs. Guys that aren’t readily accepted by the rest of society–they see the attitude of gangsters and it motivates them.
–How are boryokudan and the celebrity world connected?
(Goto chooses his words carefully here, asking if the question implied the connection still exists now.) When I first entered the Yamaguchi-gumi there was a pretty solid relationship but now there’s almost nothing. It was natural before; there were no walls.
–How about the yakuza and Sokka Gakkai?
(Goto avoids the question then says he wants to leave it with the sentiments written in his book.)
–How do you feel about society now?
I think politicians need to act with more responsibly and the knowledge that they hold the livelihoods of millions Japanese citizens in their hands. I liked Abe in the beginning, but he got soft and it all went downhill from there. There needs to be politicians with a stronger spirit.
–What are your thoughts on national pride?
I think only about half of all Japanese have a sense of national pride. More politicians to exercise that sentiment. People of all ages should begin to realize that national pride comes from simple things–the way Japanese people are raised, being born Japanese–and that those ideas need to be expressed in words for a movement to really get started.
–What about education?
There was a case of a Hokkaido Diet member who received money from a teachers’ union and eventually quit.(?) In his speech, he had said there’s no need for a national anthem or national flag in public schools. Despite that he was elected–I thought to myself, that’s crazy! To not have a flag or anthem in schools makes us just like the 51st state. Kids today need to realize that they have a culture, and that they should be proud of it as Japanese. There’s a book called Kokka no Hinkaku (国家の品格 – The character of country). It’s a simple book but a book that sells because people want to feel that pride.
The clip then ends with an economics journalist and a rep from publisher Takarajima-sha talking about Goto and how great the book is.
In the video Goto hardly says anything controversial, and some 2-Channelers have commented incredulously that the ex-yakuza head just looks like a typical old man. One thing certainly separates him from your typical middle-aged man, however: Check out the fingers on his left hand when he gestures.
Goto’s book is a best-seller in Japan but only weekly magazine Friday has really dealt with the more controversial subjects such as Goto’s admission of doing dirty work for Sokka Gakkai, Komeito and several LDP politicians in the past, including Itoyama Eitaro. The mainstream media has stayed away from the contents of the book and no politician has raised a fuss about the contents either.
Part of the reason may be that, in the past, the Goto-gumi–and now probably the Yamaguchi-gumi in the present–holds a lock on Burning Productions, Japan’s most powerful talent agency. Any major media outlet that discusses too much of Goto’s past risks losing access to Japan’s actors, singers, and other celebrities. It should be noted that part of Goto’s admiration for Nobusuke Kishi, stems from the fact that Kishi’s former secretary, Hoshi Hitoshi, helped arranged the deal with the FBI to get Goto a visa for his liver transplant in the United States. Goto does mention what he terms this “unpleasant” Washington Post article in his book, but states that he can’t discuss it because it would cause too much trouble to people who helped him. He’s still under investigation by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department for the murder of a real estate dealer. This is one of the things that isn’t discussed in the media’s fawning interviews with the man.
Habakarinagara is a fascinating book in its own right and perhaps one of the best personal accounts of how yakuza and politicians work together. It gives great insight into the mindset of certain types of yakuza, as when Goto expresses joy rather than remorse at the way the film director Itami Juzo was attacked in 1992 by Goto-gumi members. Goto claims to have had nothing to do with the attack but was pleased when his underlings sliced up the director, noting that Itami more or less deserved it for making such an unpleasant movie about the yakuza.
The movie in question, Minbo: Or the Gentle Art of Japanese Extortion, is available internationally. The “Minbo” in the title is short for minji kainyu boryoku (民事介入暴力), which can be translated as “Yakuza involvement in civil affairs.” There are lawyers who specialize in dealing with yakuza problems in Japan of a civil nature, one more thing showing how omnipresent the problem is in the nation.
All the proceeds that Goto makes from Habakarinagara will be donated to charity, according to the publisher and the author.