For those who don’t keep up with the Japan Times, Brett Bull has a great article up about efforts within the construction industry to drive out yakuza groups, focusing on the shitamachi behemoth, Tokyo Sky Tree.
In November 2008, members of construction companies formed a committee designed to exclude gangster groups. A similar arrangement was conceived for the new incarnation of the Kabuki-za theater in Ginza, Chuo Ward, whose historic building closed this year.
“We have formed alliances with construction companies that are designed to shut off yakuza involvement in these projects,” says Hiroichi Katayama, superintendent of the Organized Crime Elimination division within the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department.
Like organized crime in other countries, yakuza gangs have traditionally been tightly intertwined with Japan’s construction corporations, but the industry might now be seeing criminal organizations as something other than a necessary evil.
While the yakuza have wisened up and now boast a wide range of revenue streams–from child porn to IT venture companies–having a finger in Tokyo’s delectable construction pie still appears to be important in the groups’ financial strategy, based on the series of retaliations described towards the end of the piece. The article goes on to discuss how Fukuoka prefecture has enacted regulations to fine any individual or company that contributes funds to organized crime activities because, according to the NPA, “cutting off funds to gangs is the best way to eliminate their influence.” That may be true, but considering the violent measures used by yakuza when they don’t receive the cooperation they expected, those being extorted may have quite a vital decision to make.
Check out Brett’s Tokyo Reporter site for more on the yakuza along some steamy smut from the weeklies.