The US Declares War On The Yakuza

On July 24th, President Barack Obama declared war on the yakuza (ヤクザ)aka The Japanese mafia, in an executive order which stated that “(the yakuza) are becoming increasingly sophisticated and dangerous to the United States; they are increasingly entrenched in the operations of foreign governments and the international financial system, thereby weakening democratic institutions, degrading the rule of law, and undermining economic markets.  These organizations facilitate and aggravate violent civil conflicts and increasingly facilitate the activities of other dangerous persons.  I therefore determine that significant transnational criminal organizations constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States, and hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.”

In Japan, the yakuza exist as semi-legal entities regulated but not outlawed. They are the subject of comics, games, movies and fanzines. Apparently, President Obama is not a fan.
The typical structure of a yakuza group. Artwork by @marikurisato

The yakuza were one of four international organized crime groups (in federal law enforcement terms “transnational criminal organizations”) singled out by the President in his order. The order is meant to give the United States new tools and methods to break the economic power of transnational organized crime and protect the financial markets. It will assist the US federal government’s efforts to disrupt, destroy and defeat the international organizations that pose a significant threat to U.S. national security, foreign policy or the economy.

As a result of the order, any property in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons in which the yakuza have an interest will be blocked, and U.S. citizens are prohibited from engaging in transactions with the yakuza, or their affiliated companies. The order also authorizes the U.S. Department of the Treasury, in consultation with the Departments of Justice and State, to identify for sanctions any individual or entity determined to have materially assisted, sponsored or provided financial, material or technological support for any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to the executive order.

In the past, Citibank has been punished by the Japanese Financial Services Agency twice (2004 and 2009) for aiding and abetting money laundering by yakuza members; there was no punishment from the US side. In 2004-2006, Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) seized close to a million dollars worth of assets in the United States owned by Kajiyama Susumu, the so-called emperor of loan sharks, and a Yamaguchi-gumi Goryokai (旧山口組五菱会・元山口組清水一家)member. UCLA from 2000-2003, received close to two million dollars in money from four individuals who were yakuza or associates of the yakuza, in exchange for liver transplants conducted at UCLA hospitals.

It remains to be seen how this executive order will effect yakuza operations within the United States or whether this will also effect US companies in Japan that do business with the yakuza or their “shell-corporations.”

On September 30th, 2009, Ando Takaharu, the head Japan’s National Police Agency declared war on Japan’s largest organized crime group, the Yamaguchi-gumi (40,000 members), and pushed for a dismantling of the main faction of the group, the Kodo-kai (山口組弘道会) (3,000-4,000 members). The nearly two year “war on the yakuza” in Japan has resulted in the arrest of the number one and number two most powerful members of the Kodo-kai and dealt a huge blow to that faction, if not the Yamaguchi-gumi itself.

Reddit Japan has posted this blog entry, if you feel like adding your own comments or insight.

The text of the actual executive order follows. The annex refers to the four international crime groups mentioned above of which the yakuza are included.

EXECUTIVE ORDER

BLOCKING PROPERTY OF TRANSNATIONAL CRIMINAL ORGANIZATIONS

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) (NEA), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,

I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, find that the activities of significant transnational criminal organizations, such as those listed in the Annex to this order, have reached such scope and gravity that they threaten the stability of international political and economic systems.  Such organizations are becoming increasingly sophisticated and dangerous to the United States; they are increasingly entrenched in the operations of foreign governments and the international financial system, thereby weakening democratic institutions, degrading the rule of law, and undermining economic markets.  These organizations facilitate and aggravate violent civil conflicts and increasingly facilitate the activities of other dangerous persons.  I therefore determine that significant transnational criminal organizations constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States, and hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.

Accordingly, I hereby order:

Section 1.  (a)  All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person, including any overseas branch, of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in:

(i)   the persons listed in the Annex to this order and

(ii)  any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of State:

(A)  to be a foreign person that constitutes a significant transnational criminal organization;

(B)  to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or

(C)  to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.

(b)  I hereby determine that the making of donations of the types of articles specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in this order, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by subsection (a) of this section.

(c)  The prohibitions in subsection (a) of this section include, but are not limited to:

(i)   the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; and

(ii)  the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.

(d)  The prohibitions in subsection (a) of this section apply except to the extent provided by statutes, or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the effective date of this order.

Sec. 2.  (a)  Any transaction by a United States person or within the United States that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, causes a violation of, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

(b)  Any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

Sec. 3.  For the purposes of this order:

(a)  the term “person” means an individual or entity;

(b)  the term “entity” means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization;

(c)  the term “United States person” means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States;

(d)  the term “foreign person” means any citizen or national of a foreign state, or any entity organized under the laws of a foreign state or existing in a foreign state, including any such individual or entity who is also a United States person; and

(e)  the term “significant transnational criminal organization” means a group of persons, such as those listed in the Annex to this order, that includes one or more foreign persons; that engages in an ongoing pattern of serious criminal activity involving the jurisdictions of at least two foreign states; and that threatens the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.

Sec. 4.  For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render these measures ineffectual.  I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in this order, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1(a) of this order.

Sec. 5.  The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA, as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order.  The Secretary of the Treasury may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government consistent with applicable law.  All agencies of the United States Government are hereby directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of this order.

Sec. 6.  The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to submit the recurring and final reports to the Congress on the national emergency declared in this order, consistent with section 401(c) of the NEA (50 U.S.C. 1641(c)) and section 204(c) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1703(c)).

Sec. 7.  The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to determine that circumstances no longer warrant the blocking of the property and interests in property of a person listed in the Annex to this order, and to take necessary action to give effect to that determination.

Sec. 8.  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

Sec. 9.  This order is effective at 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on July 25, 2011.

BARACK OBAMA

THE WHITE HOUSE,
July 24, 2011.

43 thoughts on “The US Declares War On The Yakuza”

  1. It’s all very well Obama saying this, but what if he doesn’t reach a budget agreement before August 1st with those crazy Republicans? If that agreement doesn’t occur, I think the US Government is going to have bigger priorities than the boryokudan…As you’ve implied before Jake: only the branches will be affected, never the roots of the tree.

  2. Is this one of those far-reaching implications things or one of those politicians need to distract voting populace away from economical issues things?

  3. The real threat turned out to be wallstreet, wasteful spending, and incompetence that allowed the biggest terror attack in US history. American government incompetence 3, Yakuza 0.

    1. Are you sure you didn’t mean that post for American Subculture Research Center? (LOL). Well, in Japan, at least, the yakuza were a critical factor in causing a financial meltdown, via real estate speculation, and then a huge recession–by terrorizing any government agency or bank that tried to collect on non-performing loans and toxic assets. In that sense, what happened with Wall Street was preceded by a similar chain of events in Japan.

  4. I actually read an article on cracked.com on how yakuza’s corporate extortions (そうかいや) has a tremendous impact on the global economy. Then again, Japan hasn’t really produced anything in the past 20 years and is slipping behind, becoming the 3rd largest economy behind China. If yakuza has their hands in almost all Japanese business, being shareholders and all, then I feel like this bill will either help cleanse the Japanese economy or destroy it, essentially creating an embargo on the entire nation. This is some very absurd bureaucratic legislature coming from the White House at this time.

  5. Edson – I am curious how the Yak got singled out and made it on the list. Why not the Chinese Triads, Italian mafia, etc… What was the reasoning?

    1. The Department of Treasury was the impetus behind the yakuza being singled out for the executive order. The Yamaguchi-gumi has laundered money in the United States before. I’ve written about in Tokyo Vice in the chapters relating to Kajiyama Susumu, the Emperor of Loan Sharks.

  6. This still seems very odd. With the multibillion dollar Mexican and South American drug cartels making front page headlines, and gleaning a lot more attention her (in the US), do you believe that they have superior accounting mojo to the Yak to have not been spotted?

    thanks,
    sr d

  7. Even if this is ‘symbolic’ I can respect what it means and it seems like a perfectly fine statement. Targeting the Yakuza specifically, I wouldn’t believe that Japanese-Americans would carry the same cultural-ties to the Yakuza as Japan-living Japanese, so its just another crime group to be attached. But still, to A) use the FBI to make a deal with the Yakuza just to B) turn around and single them out as a threat is kind of… ironic.

    1. The FBI made a deal with Goto Tadamasa because the Japanese police were uncooperative in giving them the tools to track organized crime in the United States, especially the names of the yakuza members. It was a good idea, not very well-executed. Goto got his liver and lived on to cause much misery to many people. The FBI got maybe 1/4 of what they were promised.
      UCLA gave four yakuza bosses liver transplants. Technically, I think the money they paid for the operations constitute money laundering but I’m not an expert on federal laws. The FBI did not set up the deal with UCLA.

  8. Obama is dreaming if he thinks about cracking down on the YAKUZA. and zetas and camora and the brothers circle lol.
    He really should focus first on the criminal organisations of his own country!!!

  9. I think the reason behind Obama targeting the Yakuza might have a great deal to do with their possession of Scaler Electromagnetic devices bought from the Russians back in 1989. I guess since the late 70’s Russia was using SEM against the US by changing weather patterns.SEM was bought by rogue Yakuza members in 1990 and brought back to Japan where further experiments were done, namely the strange Hurricane Catarina off the coast of Brazil which is the first ever recorded hurricane in the South Atlantic EVER!!

    Here is another interesting, though far-fetched hypothesis that I’ve created just based off what I’ve been reading lately. Anyone hear about all those solar flares, NASA warning the US gov. about a solar storm in 2012 and our power grid being compromised due to electromagnetic interference from the solar flares, more frequent earthquakes due to the polar shift and the effect the sun will have on the planet around this time? I see it in 2012 youtube videos all the time. But what if all it is is just a secret little war going on right now between Japan and the US using SEM weapons against each other in the form of orchestrated natural disasters that’s being made to look like a crazy universal planetary shifting? Crazy.. but not too crazy. It would explain a lot of what seems to be going on in some areas. The US just pulling the plug on the space program, closing up the Svalbard Global Seed vault where all of our plant life is kept in seed form, the creation of underground living quarters way below the earth surface for elite members and politicians, all these 2012 scares of earthquakes and tsunamis and hurricanes destroying the planet. What if it all really is just a war going on that we’ve been fed to believe. Something that’s been building under the surface for years and is now just coming to a head and its being played off in the media and by other institutions as an impending catastrophic event. Ah well… just my 2 cents. If you want to know more on the topic of Russia and Japan trading SEM weapons, follow this link. Very interesting stuff.

    Read #’s 1-3, 9 and 10.
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/7920095/Weather-Weapons-Scalar-Electromagnetic-weapons#

  10. Jake i have a question if you dont mind?
    Have you ever been approached by the FBI to give them info and intelligence on the YAKUZA or give them names or tell them everything you know? i know this might be a strange question to ask. but im just wondering? i mean ofcourse you might not know the deep deep activities of the YAKUZA , but you know alot of things anyway. thanks

    1. I’ve lectured to the FBI twice on organized crime in Japan and spoke this year at an international conference on Asian Organized Crime that was attended by members from the FBI. Both the FBI and ICE ( Department of Homeland Security Investigations?) do excellent work in trying to deal with transnational crime organizations. They are putting more effort into doing so.

  11. Obviously there is much more to stupid barack obama singling out the yakuza than meets, the eye. i hope he and they all fail. the yakuza should exist. i would much rather preffer to have yakuza around, than those dirty nasty mexican drug gangs, or even other organizations. well before obama knows it he will loose the elections and the this whole so called war on the yakuza will be over before he knows it.

  12. Of course, the powers granted by this executive order can be used selectively by those who are “in the loop”, to interfere with Japanese criminal enterprises the corrupt US government wishes to interfere with, perhaps even on behalf of the true Japanese power-brokers. Given the Obama administration’s dismal transparency record and the apparent continuation of the Bush-era policies, I’d tentatively assume that this is the case. The Americans have been in bed with criminal power players in Japan ever since WW2, if not since the Meiji coup.

    It’s no coincidence that the current organized-crime-induced financial crisis originating in the US and elsewhere follows the same formula as the “bursting of the bubble” in Japan a couple of decades ago. These kinds of sophisticated market-wide economic operations are a lucrative enterprise, apparently. I don’t pretend to know who figured this stuff out first, or why people would want to harm their own economies in such a brazen way. It seems counter-productive…

    I’ll wait and see what announcements are made by the US government regarding actions against the Yakuza before I give any credence to the rhetoric surrounding these sorts of transnational organized crime issues. The US is possibly the biggest instigator and enabler of organized crime in the world.

  13. These gangsters, along with the well-dressed fat cat no-questions-asked/it’s-just-business-as-usual bankers-gamblers lowlifes, are THE PRIMARY ACCOMPLICES of murdering/raping/pillaging despots, drug barons and violent extremists all around the world. Organized criminals are THE MAIN THREAT NOW to world security. Extremists wouldn’t be able to hijack even model planes once their money magicians are shutdown. The CIA could have done a lot of good and prevented 9/11 if only they had been going after these cross-border “business facilitators” instead of aiding and abetting corrupt government officials in developing countries and influencing/dictating US foreign policy in lieu of acquiring really useful information.

  14. I say kill all members of the Yakuza, and Japan will be more peaceful and safer. If I was paid 100,000 million yen to kill the main boss of the Yakuza, I would be honoured to do it as my fight for the Japanese people.

    1. I understand the sentiment but I am not sure it would work. As long as the yakuza pretend to be members of humanitarian organizations or actually behave in some fashion, they keep their lower ranking thugs in check.

  15. Please correct me if I am wrong but did the Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA) mandate that all banks screen prospective clients’ Japanese (Kanji) names to ensure they are not on the list of accused Yakuza members?

    Regards,
    Kelly Yip

  16. Oh, boy! Japanese yakuzas must be flattered. They know they are very uneducated in Japanese society but treated by US president just like Sony, Honda, Toshiba, Mitsubishi. etc. Maybe they will go back to Junior HS to study English now, maybe arithmetic in their elementary school, but that they will not worry. US politicians got bad arithmetic anyway, Japanese citizens (Katagi) will give this as excuse so that their young children will not have yakuzas as their classmates. Maybe oyabuns will begin to rectuit top engineers and scientists to their kobuns in order to satisfy expectation by US President. This is the president who said “don’t go to Las Vegas” to US people but wnet to top hotels in Las Vegas. Toshiko p.s. maybe FBI understand their speech more than my broken English???

  17. I winder US FBI is investigating all of Japanese police systems, local, prefecture, national, in Japan in order to crack down yakuza organizations. How sbout soukaiyas? How it distinguishes honest stockholders and soukaiyas? Is it going to all Japanese corporations? Is the purpose of go after yakuza, annexation of Japan under USA so that all Japanese corporations in USA would close USA operations and going back to Japan so that increasing more unemployment? Yakuza organizations will vanish sooner or later, just like Nevada. Yakuzas are not educated but encourage their children to colleges. Of cause with their illegal money. However, like mobs in Las Vegas, their children wll not become yakuzas, (example Tony Spilotro and his nephew who is a Clark County attorney), Japapnese cops, corrupted or not, hate to work for foreign countries,

  18. Is he confused? If yakuzas are banished in the world, Uyoku (right wing anti other world countries than Japan organization in Japan) will be delighted, Their obstruction yakuzas gone, Uyoku can go back to WW II anti American movement to attack USA. Uyoku has been dreaming back to WW II era when Uyoku of Japan caused WW II. Uyoku often say Hiroshima and Nagasaki had been too kind to USA that they got punished. Please keep yakuzas to fight against Uyoku, No more atomic bombs to Japan.

  19. In Las Vegas, Moe Dalitz (Mafia) donated University of Nevada a lot and a lot. Sunset Hospital was built by Moe’s money. Japanese yakuzas who wanted to do liver transplant paid a lot mor money than operation would cost. In sence, UCLA is the one extorted yakuzas. Isn’t it humanitarian to help sick people? Just because they paid a lot more money than they had to pay should not be considered as sin of yakuzas. In Japan, no one want to work TEPCO to become atomic desease patients to die like Hiroshima or Nagasaki, TEPCO used yakuzas to their dangerous operations. Yakuzas did not create TEPCO. Yakuzas do many illegal operations, Whatever purpose, yakuzas went to Fukushima, etc to give food to people when Japanese Government would not go because of nuclear leak. I don’t think Yakuzas are going to attack USA. They have too much problems in Japan than thinking to attack USA,

  20. Poor Fukushima Prefecture! If yakuzas are gone, who gonna help them when they need food? Unlike Before WW II was over, it is illegal now to sell their little preschoolers to Southern prostitute houses so that little girls got 8 years of educatuon. General MacArthur asked Japan to stop that. Crops are very bad there. With TEPCO leaks, and yakuzas gone, they have to work for TEPCO to survive little while, with Hiroshima-Nagasaki type desease. Big corporations there have been moving out. Japanese Government will legalize gambling to invite Las Vegas Casino Hotels to make money to recover ruined areas it claims. Then Uyoku will draft them to revitalize another War against USA. It was not what Southern Japan, which toppled Shogunate and created modernized Japan years ago, wanted, Japanese Government tend not to help poor people for generations. US War against yakuzas will help Uyoku to recreate Pearl Harbour.

  21. I don’t know why some yaluza bosses and Mafia bosses get liver ailment but Tadamasa Goto of Yamaguchi-gumi was really dieing from liver desease in about 2000 or 2001. Moe Dalitz in Las Vegas died with liver deseas in 1998 before he was going to be arrested. I heard that FBI arranged Goto to UCLA. Maybe to get Yakuza info but I praise FBI’s Humanity even though purpose could be tainted. In return, UCLA got tons of money, just like University of Nevada got Moe to create many buildings. Moe created Sunset Hospital, too. It is humanitalian gesture. Yakuzas or katagis, people should be treated to be cured. I salute to UCLA, too.

  22. I doubt very much Japanese Government will cooprate with President Obama’s plan to perish yakuzas. In 1960, Japan ordered all tekiya, yakuza and uyoku organization to create ‘Aik’ welcome and support committee. Liberal Democratic Party Security Committee. did that. So, any leftwing people’s meetings got attacked by ‘Aik’ Welcomed committed all over in Japan. They used big sticks and their hands. Japanese had strict gun control laws (still ). Everywhere. Something violence action Japanese Government want, it cane recruit yakuza, tekiya, etc. Uyoku, people don’t like but yakuzas are good enough to recrruit.As for Yamaguchi-gumi, it has been with Mitsubishi group for financial section so long. Mitsubishi owns Rockfeller Center, Mithsubishi owns, owns, .. so many business. So many employees in USA. Seems to me that President want to increase unemployment in USA.

  23. Liver Transplant. UCLA Medical Center is very busy place. Couldn’t FBI arrange him and other yakuzas to get surgery in USC or UCI? UCI is located in a lot better Irvine, Orange County. Near Newport Beach and, also Disneyland, Knotts berry farm. When recovering, they could watch baseball game of Angels. Angel Stadium got better viewers than LA Dodgers. UCI hospital buildings are way newer than UCLA and more comfortable with their employees. Expensive to live now but with yakuza money they have, I don’t think they go to better hospital,

  24. Excuse me. I meant they should go to better hospital instead of busy busy UCLA Hospital. I am not familiar with sickness except cough once or twice a year living warm no-snow place in entire my life. So, what I think about hospitals could be WRONG.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *