April 1st 2011 (Tokyo, Japan)
The National Police Agency announced today an immediate ban on designated organized crime groups and their activities in conjunction with the establishment of Japan’s version of the RICO act, the criminal conspiracy laws/kyobozai（共謀罪). The Criminal Conspiracy Laws were passed in an extraordinary session of the Diet, where the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) showed amazing and surprising leadership after a series of incidents in which organized crime groups targeted regular civilians in neo-terrorist acts. However, due to the timely earthquake relief provided by these same organizations, the new laws have had a mixed reception with the Japanese public.
Prime Minister Kan Naoto, addressing the assembled members, proclaimed, “The days that this country coddled organized crime members as if they were children with a Hello! Kitty doll are finally over. No longer will we tolerate collusion, cooperation and the appeasement of organized crime groups, these so called yakuza, these gokudo. We will not let them manipulate our stock markets, jack up land prices, evict the old and feeble from their homes to make way for unneeded new real estate developments. We will not let them shame the Japanese government by being more efficient relief providers in times of crisis. We are tired of their adherence to an outdated code of honor that makes all politicians look like mere opportunistic sociopaths. We will not let them exploit transient labor nor profit off of sex trafficking and drugs. We will no longer allow them to have a nine-fingered, sometimes eight-fingered grasp on the steering wheels of power in this country. We will remove them from this country as painstakingly as a laser removes the tattoo from the skin of those foolish enough to have decorated themselves permanently in their youthful folly. With laser-like precision, we will root them out, and eliminate them from the national body–as if they were not just tattoos but cancerous growths.” Kan’s speech was greeted with a standing ovation, with only a smattering of muted protest about his wild use of mixed metaphors. It marks a major rift in relations between the Yamaguchi-gumi and the DPJ. The Yamaguchi-gumi has allegedly backed the DPJ since 2007.
In Kobe city, the police in a daring raid seized the headquarters of the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest crime group with 40,000 members, and arrested over a hundred top members of the same group on charges of racketeering, criminal conspiracy, destruction of property, extortion, and general nuisance prohibitory ordinances. The Yamaguchi-gumi headquarters will be razed next year and turned into Kobe’s largest open air park. In honor of the film director, Itami Juzo, who was attacked by Yamaguchi-gumi members in 1992 after directing the dark comedy MINBO NO ONNA, and died under mysterious circumstances—the new park will be called Itami Juzo Koen.
In Tokyo, the Tokyo Metropolitan Department (TMPD) raided the Ginza located offices of the Sumiyoshikai (Japan’s second largest crime group, with 12,000 members) and also the Inagawakai (Japan’s third largest crime group, 10,000) headquarters located directly across from the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo. The same day, the current acting head of the Sumiyoshikai announced plans to dismantle the organization and retire to Las Vegas. The Inagawakai announced plans to cease all criminal activities and restructure the group as a political think-tank in an alliance with Fyuji Group’s newspaper, Bankei Shinbun.
Jodan Akushitsuna, acting general director of the National Police Agency, in a hastily arranged press conference at the National Police Agency headquarters in Kasumigaseki speaking to the Japanese press, explained, “Japan is not a third-world country and there’s no excuse for allowing organized crime groups to exist as quasi-legal entities. We know who they are, where they are and what they do. Their activities do not benefit the people of Japan. And even if you could argue that they are like a second police force, keeping street crime low–we only need one police force. We just need to do our jobs better. Today is the beginning of the end of the boryokudan (violent groups) in Japan. We gave them fair warning–we banned the publication and distribution of their fanzines. They should have known what was next. We are willing and able to work with those who leave organized crime and help them find honest jobs in Japan’s service sector and entertainment industry. But make no mistake, and I say this to all those still remaining in yakuza organizations–walk out or be carried out. The choice is up to you.”
It’s not known what impact the dissolution of Japan’s underworld will have on the economy–with 86,000 yakuza now essentially out of a job. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare predicts that unemployment is expected to rise as rapidly as the price of methamphetamines. The Ministry of Trade and Industry predicts that sales of Hawaiian shirts, traditional Japanese swords, smuggled Russian firearms, and sweatsuits are expected to plummet. The public security of Japan may also be at risk. The power vacuum created by the dissolution of the Japanese mafia aka yakuza, may allow foreign gangs to roam the streets terrorizing the gentle people of this small island country. In addition to this, a summary provision of the new criminal conspiracy laws, effectively bans both the sale and possession of child pornography, as well as games in which the rape and sexual humiliation of underage girls and boys is depicted. Japan’s Entertainment Trade Association (JETA) immediately launched a petition protesting this crackdown on artistic freedom but their protests have been more or less ignored in the chaos after the laws went into effect today.
Masatada Guroto, formerly of the Guroto-gumi, and once one of the most powerful crime bosses in Japan, upon hearing the news of the crackdown reportedly said to NHK, “That’s the way it goes. The yakuza have basically been taken over by a bunch of Koreans, anyway. It’s no fun for us Japanese yakuza anymore.” The North Korean Japanese Association has demanded a retraction. In other news, Sega Entertainment announced that in light of the new laws that they would be ceasing production of GOKUDO BOI 8, which was scheduled to be released in the US as YAKUZA WARRIOR 7, in 2011.
(compiled from Kyogo News Service and Asahi Shinpun reports)
Sub-editor’s note: Now that Japan has cracked down on organized crime, banned the yakuza, and banned the possession of child pornography , I feel that writing about these subjects is no longer fruitful or useful. As of April 22nd, 2011, we will be closing this blog. Sarah Noorbakhsh, who has done an amazing job of running the web-site and turning it into something we are all proud of here, will be moving on to a position in PR at Toyoda International in Nagoya, and is currently reading a lot about Japanese cars. I am at a loss as to what I should do but for the time being have taken a job in PR as well. I’m now a part-time blogger at the Mini Moni tribute website, Retro Mini Moni. I don’t know a lot about Japanese pop-culture but I’m willing to learn.
* happy belated April Fools Day! It’ll be a cold day in hell when the Japanese government bans either of these things. But in the last year they really have cracked down! We posted this last year as well, so hopefully you haven’t fallen for it twice. The only thing in this article that is true is that the Yamaguchi-gumi crime group has backed the Democratic Party of Japan since 2007. No one is 100% sure why. @<@