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Some questions about yakuza

wirtandi

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Hi all

I have been researching quite a bit about Yakuza. Straight to the point, I have some questions:

  1. If they are a crime group, how come the government allows them to exist? Why not just ban them?

  2. Is it common for yakuzas to attack civilians?

  3. While researching, I stumbled upon an article that says if you are the owner of a small business/cafe/restaurant, it is guaranteed that you have to deal with yakuzas? Is this true, and what for? Really curious about this one.

  4. I just feel that if you are in Japan you must be in constant fear of doing the wrong thing to a Japanese man because, who knows, you could be talking to a yakuza member?
5. Is it possible to, for example, run a restaurant, be involved in the real estate industry etc without dealing with the yakuza?


That is all basically. I just dont understand how Tokyo is currently ranked as the safest city in the world when the threat of yakuzas is there. Surely they threaten both Japanese and foreigners? Not to mention their involvement in a lot of industries like restaurants, small businesses, real estate, etc.
 

Mike Cash

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Why not ban rats and houseflies?
 

Majestic

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1. Constitution of Japan allows freedom of association. (At least, that is the official reason).
2. No. This should be fairly apparent if you research this topic.
3. Movies and dramas often show yakuza visiting shops and asking for protection money. I don't think its common in most areas of Japan. Maybe a few trouble spots, but it's by no means "guaranteed".
4. I don't know anyone who lives in fear of the yakuza. The yakuza keep to themselves - and they mostly get their money from dealing in drugs, prostitution, and I think some things like "protection" or extortion, but I don't think the average Japanese citizen has much to fear from the yakuza. This should also be a fairly central theme in your research.
5. See above.

The yakuza don't seek out random strangers to attack, or to extort money from. The yakuza are trying to stay under the police radar, and so they do not commit random street crime. Also, the yakuza like to cultivate an image of being a protector of the impoverished, or those struggling to survive. If I recall correctly, there were stories of them passing out food and water after the Kobe earthquake, in an effort to gain points with the citizens there (which worked, I think).
 

wirtandi

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1. Constitution of Japan allows freedom of association. (At least, that is the official reason).
2. No. This should be fairly apparent if you research this topic.
3. Movies and dramas often show yakuza visiting shops and asking for protection money. I don't think its common in most areas of Japan. Maybe a few trouble spots, but it's by no means "guaranteed".
4. I don't know anyone who lives in fear of the yakuza. The yakuza keep to themselves - and they mostly get their money from dealing in drugs, prostitution, and I think some things like "protection" or extortion, but I don't think the average Japanese citizen has much to fear from the yakuza. This should also be a fairly central theme in your research.
5. See above.

The yakuza don't seek out random strangers to attack, or to extort money from. The yakuza are trying to stay under the police radar, and so they do not commit random street crime. Also, the yakuza like to cultivate an image of being a protector of the impoverished, or those struggling to survive. If I recall correctly, there were stories of them passing out food and water after the Kobe earthquake, in an effort to gain points with the citizens there (which worked, I think).
Majestic, thank you very much for the helpful answer.

Your answer cleared up many of my questions, however only 1 more remains.

When you run a small business/restaurant/cafe in say, Tokyo, how likely are you to be approached by the yakuza to be offered protection money? I even heard there is a new law in Japan that says any business owners found to be interacting with a yakuza member will be penalized?

I just cannot shake off this thought that if you run a business in Japan, its 100% sure that you will be approached by yakuzas. Surely, surely there are many successful businesses in Tokyo that have absolutely no connection with yakuzas?

Furthermore, I know the yakuzas are involved in a lot of industries such as real estate. Does this mean if you enter the real estate industry in Japan, you will at some point stumble across the yakuzas?

EDIT: With the presence of yakuzas, how is it possible that Tokyo is the worlds safest city?
 

Lothor

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EDIT: With the presence of yakuzas, how is it possible that Tokyo is the worlds safest city?
Majestic answered that in his last paragraph. The yakuza do not seek out random citizens as victims.
Another factor that I'm sure contributes to the high safety of Japan is the visibility of the police, with a very high density of koban (police boxes) in city areas.

Small businesses/restaurants facing extortion by yakuza? Quite possibly. I've heard from more than one source that all the stands selling food, toys etc at festivals have to pay protection money to the yakuza.
Not unique to Japan though, my brother got a visit from the local thugs when him and his friends renovated and reopened a pub in a well-to-do town in the UK - they wanted a couple of hundred pounds a month so that the place did not burn down.

You are right about the recent law criminalising payment to the yakuza but I've not heard whether it is actually being enforced. Laws can be rather selectively enforced in Japan.

For more information on the yakuza in Japan, check out Jake Adelstein's work, he regularly writes columns for Japan Times.
 

WonkoTheSane

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I own a small business in Japan. I have never been approached by the Yakuza.

The tax people on the other hand...
 

cloa513

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Organised crime is not illegal in other countries. There innumerate criminal gangs in the USA and other countries. There are gang units in lots of police stations in the US- who exactly who is the gangs. Organised crime activities but they are hard to prove everywhere -its the nature of organised. I think it should be illegal- we should focus the very small number of determined criminals and these are worst of the worst- genuine effective terrorists- way more effective than Ahka heida (?) and all the others.Organised crime's aim along with make lots of money is disrupt government.
 
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