Ever have a nagging question about the yakuza you hoped to have answered but didn’t know where to ask? Know that you’re not alone–even Japanese people themselves find the group slightly mysterious and arguably intriguing despite, or perhaps because of, their fearsome role in society. But where to go to get those questions answered? The Internet, of course! Here is an amusing selection of those small curiosities and their replies from some armchair anthropologists.
A question posted to Japan’s infamous home of trolls, the 2chan BBS:
Answer: Not to anyone’s knowledge, but one poster puts it best: “お前ら、当たってから心配しようぜ” (“You guys should just worry about it when it happens.”)
Some from the more reputable Goo:
Answer: If you’re shallow and care about appearances, then probably no. But why not meet her parents before you judge?
Answer: The question received mixed reactions, with one person commenting that perhaps a lighter sentence in the case of two gang members may have to do with the fact that the victim provoked the murderer. Another refutes, saying that “without a doubt,” organized crime members will get a lighter sentence for killing each other than for killing non-members.
Jake’s view: There still is a tendency to view yakuza upon yakuza violence as something that is treated more lightly by the courts. However, if you’ve read Tokyo Vice, you’ll know that the bet I made on the outcome of one yakuza’s trial proved to be way off because I was sure that the courts would be more lenient. It was a costly mistake. At the same time, I would say it’s a safe bet to say that when the yakuza kill a normal person “katagi” that the law is very harsh with them.
Answer: Probably not. While carpenters tend to make the decorations and there may be some with seedy connections in the profession, the majority of pine decorations are likely clean.
Answer: One hypothesis is that, because yakuza are from a more classic era, they would likely not allow it. Another user guesses that there’s really no benefit to having a female-only crime group. (There is, however, apparently a(n adult?) movie called “Onna Yakuza“)
Answer: All votes are for Al Qaeda.
Jake’s view: Both groups have a capacity for producing “suicide bombers.” In the old days, a yakuza would think nothing of going on a probable suicide mission against a rival gang group if the oyabun (father figure) asked him to do it. Even now, I still think they are a bunch of tough dudes. And they’re smarter. Plus they know how to use a sword. In close combat, I vote for the yakuza.
Answer: People who work in business districts would have trouble, with no one around to control chinpira punks who commit petty crimes and regulate the presence of Chinese organized crime.
Jake’s view: That’s the standard answer and one which the yakuza always use to justify their existence–it’s why every Yakuza fan magazine has a section on foreign crime. In reality, Chinese organized crime works under the yakuza not over them. It only took the TMPD and Immigration to do a couple of large sweeps of Kabukicho in the 2000s to effectively castrate “the Chinese mafia.” Deportation will always be an effective tool in keeping down the “foreign mafia.”
What nagging questions do you have about these infamous thugs? JSRC can likely provide more reliable speculation than most online message boards!