"Yakuza" written in katakana
|Presumit oreegin||The Kabuki-mono|
|Actual number||102,400 members|
|Activities||Creeminal activities an/or legitimate businesses|
Yakuza (ヤクザ or やくざ), known as gokudō (極道) anaw, are members of traditional organised crime syndicates in Japan. The Japanese polis, and media by request of the polis, call them bōryokudan (暴力団), literally "violence group", while the yakuza call themselves "ninkyō dantai" (任侠団体 or 仁侠団体), "chivalrous organisations". The yakuza are notoriously known for their strict codes of conduct and very organised nature. They are very prevalent in the Japanese media and operate internationally with an estimated 102,400 members.
Table o contents
Divisions and origin[eedit | eedit soorce]
Despite uncertainty about the single origin of yakuza organisations, most modern yakuza derive from two classifications which emerged in the mid-Edo Period (1603–1868): tekiya, those who primarily peddled illicit, stolen or shoddy goods; and bakuto, those who were involved in or participated in gambling.
Tekiya (peddlers) were considered one of the lowest social groups in Edo. As thay began to form organisations of their own, they took over some administrative duties relating to commerce, such as staw allocation and protection of their commercial activities. During Shinto festivals, their peddlers opened stalls and some members were hired to act as security. Each peddler paid rent in exchange for a staw assignment and protection during the fair.
The Edo government eventually formally recognised such tekiya organisations and granted the oyabun (leaders) of tekiya a surname as well as permission to carry a sword — the wakizashi, or short samurai sword (the right to carry the katana, or full-sized samurai swords, remained the exclusive right of the nobility and samurai castes). This was a major step forward for the traders, as only umwhile samurai and noblemen were allowed to carry swords.
Bakuto (gamblers) had a hintle lower social standing even than traders, as gambling was illegal. Many sma gambling houses cropped up in abandoned temples or shrines at the edge of towns and villages all over Japan. Most of their gambling houses ran loan sharking businesses for clients, and they usually maintained their own security personnel.
The places themselves, as well as the bakuto, were regarded with disdain by society at large, and hintle o the undesirable image of the yakuza originates from bakuto; this includes the name yakuza itself (ya-ku-za, or 8-9-3, is a losing hand in Oicho-Kabu, a form of blackjack).
Because of the economic situation during the mid-period and the predominance of the merchant class, developing yakuza groups were composed of misfits and delinquents that had joined or formed yakuza groups to extort customers in local markets by selling fake or shoddy goods.
The rites of the yakuza can still be seen to this day in initiation ceremonies, which incorporate tekiya or bakuto rituals. Although the modern yakuza has diversified, some gangs still identify with any group or the other; for example, a gang whose primary source of income is illegal gambling may refer to themselves as bakuto.
Organization and activities[eedit | eedit soorce]
Structure[eedit | eedit soorce]
During the formation of the yakuza, thay adopted the traditional Japanese hierarchical structure of oyabun-kobun where kobun (子分; lit. foster bairn) owe thair allegiance to the oyabun (親分; lit. foster parent). In a hintle later period, the code of jingi (仁義, justice and duty) was developed, where loyalty and respect are a way of life.
The oyabun-kobun relationship is formalised by ceremonial sharing of sake from a single cup. This ritual is not exclusive to the yakuza—it is an all commonly performed in traditional Japanese Shinto weddings, an may have been a part of sworn brotherhood relationships.
During the World War II period in Japan, the more traditional tekiya/bakuto form of organisation declined as the entire population was mobilised to pairticipate in the war effort and society came under strict military government. After the war, however, the yakuza adopted it again.
Prospective yakuza come from all walks of life. The most romantic tales tell how yakuza accepted sons who had been abandoned or exiled by their parents. Many yakuza start out in junior high school or high school as common street thugs or members of bōsōzoku gangs. Perhaps because of its lower socio-economic status, numerous yakuza members come from Burakumin and ethnic Korean backgrounds.
Yakuza groups are heidit by an oyabun or kumichō (組長, faimily heid) who gives orders to his subordinates, the kobun. In this respect, the organisation is a variation of the traditional Japanese senpai-kōhai (senior-junior) model. Members of yakuza gangs cut thair family ties and transfer their loyalty to the gang boss. They refer to each other as family members - fathers and elder and younger brothers. The yakuza is populated almost entirely by men, and there are very few women involved, who are called "nee-san" (姐さん aulder sister). When the third Yamaguchi-gumi boss (Kazuo Taoka) died in the early 1980s, his wife (Fumiko) took over as boss of the Yamaguchi-gumi, albeit for a short time.
The yakuza have a very complex organisational structure. There is an overall boss of the syndicate, the kumicho, and directly beneath him are the saiko komon (senior advisor) and so-honbucho (headquarters chief). The second in the chain of command is the wakagashira, who governs several gangs in a region with the help of a fuku-honbucho who is himself responsible for several gangs. The regional gangs themselves are governed by their local boss, the shateigashira.
Each members connection is ranked by the hierarchy of sakazuki (sake sharin). Kumicho are at the top, and control various saikō-komon (最高顧問, senior advisors). The saikō-komon control their own turfs in different areas or cities. Thay have their own underlings, including other underbosses, advisors, accountants and enforcers.
Those who have received sake from the oyabun are part of the immediate faimily and ranked in terms of elder or younger brothers. However, each kobun, in turn, can offer sakazuki as oyabun to his underling to form an affiliated organisation, which much in turn form lower ranked organisations. In the Yamaguchi-gumi, which controls some 2,500 businesses and 500 yakuza groups, there are even 5t rank subsidiary organisations.
Rituals[eedit | eedit soorce]
Yubitsume, or the cutting of one's finger, is a form of penance or apology. Upon a first offence, the transgressor must cut off the tip of his left little finger and give the severed portion to his boss. While an underboss may do this in penance to the oyabun if he wants to spare a member of his own gang from further retaliation.
Its origin stems from the traditional way of holding a Japanese sword. The bottom three fingers of each hand are used to grip the sword tightly, with the thumb and index fingers slightly loose. The removal of digits starting with the little finger moving up the hand to the index finger progressively weakens a persons grip on the sword.
The idea is that a person with a weak sword grip then has to rely more on the group for protection—reducing individual action. In recent years, prosthetic fingertips have been developed to disguise this distinctive appearance.
Many yakuza have full-body tattoos. Their tattoos, known as irezumi in Japan, are still often "hand-picked", that is, the ink is inserted beneath the skin using non-electrical, hand-made and hand held tools with needles or sharpened bamboo or steel. The procedure is expensive and painful and can take years to complete.
When yakuza members play Oicho-Kabu cards with each other, they often remove their shirts or open them up and drape them around their waists. This allows them to display their full-body tattoos to each ither. This is one of the few times that yakuza members display their tattoos to others, as they normally keep them concealed in public with long-sleeves and high-necked shirts. When new members join, thay are often required to remove their trousers as well and reveal only lower body tattoos.
Syndicates[eedit | eedit soorce]
The three largest syndicates[eedit | eedit soorce]
Although yakuza membership has declined following an anti-gang law aimed specifically at yakuza and passed by the Japanese government in 1992, their are thought to be more than 103,000 active yakuza members in Japan the day. Although there are many different yakuza groups, together they form the largest organised crime group in the world.
|Principal families||Description||Mon (crest)|
(六代目山口組 Rokudaime Yamaguchi-gumi)
|Creatit in 1915, the Yamaguchi-gumi is the biggest yakuza faimily, accoontin for 50% o aw yakuza in Japan, wi mair nor 55,000 members dividit intae 850 clans. Despite mair nor ane decade o polis repression, the Yamaguchi-gumi haes continued tae grow. Frae its heidquairters in Kobe, it directs creeminal activities throughoot Japan. It is involvit in operations in Asie an the Unitit States an aw. Kenichi Shinoda is the Yamaguchi-gumi's current oyabun. He follaes an expansionist policy, an haes increased operations in Tokyo (which haes no tradeetionally been the territory o the Yamaguchi-gumi.)
The Yamaguchi faimily is successfu tae the pynt whaur its name haes acome synonymous wh Japanese organizit creeme in mony pairts o Asie ootside o Japan. Mony Cheenese or Korean persons who dae no ken the name "Yakuza" wad ken the name "Yamaguchi-gumi", which is frequently portrayed in gangster movies.
"The meanin o the samurai swuird is in the warrior an the swuird as ane it coud be a dangerous opponent" Yamabishi (山菱)
|The Sumiyoshi-rengo is the seicont lairgest yakuza faimily, wi 20,000 members dividit intae 277 clans. The Sumiyoshi-kai, as it is whiles cried, is a confederation o smawer yakuza groups. Its current oyabun is Shigeo Nishiguchi. Structurally, Sumiyoshi-kai differs frae its principal rival, the Yamaguchi-gumi, in that it functions lik a federation. The chain o command is mair lax, an awtho Shigeo Nishiguchi is aaways the supreme oyabun, its leadership is distributit amang several ither fowk.|
|The Inagawa-kaï is the third lairgest yakuza faimily in Japan, wi roughly 15,000 members dividit intae 313 clans. It is based in the Tokyo-Yokohama aurie an wis ane o the first yakuza families tae expand its operations tae ootside o Japan. Its current oyabun is Yoshio Tsunoda.||120px|
Designated bōryokudan[eedit | eedit soorce]
A designated boryokudan (指定暴力団 Shitei Bōryokudan) is a "particularly harmful" yakuza group registered bi the Prefectural Public Safety Commissions under the Organised Crime Countermeasures Law (暴力団対策法 Bōryokudan Taisaku Hō) enactit in 1991.
Under the Organised Crime Countermeasures Law, the Prefectural Public Safety Commissions has registered 22 syndicates as the designated boryokudan groups. Fukuoka Prefectur has the largest number of designated boryokudan groups among any of the prefectures, at 5; the Kudo-kai, the Taishu-kai, the Fukuhaku-kai, the Dojin-kai an the Kyushu Seido-kai.
Designated boryokudan groups are usually large, old-established organisations (mostly formed before Warld War II, some even formed before the Meiji Revolution of the 19t century), however there are some exceptions such as the Kyushu Seido-kai which, with it's blatant armed conflicts with the Dojin-kai, was registered only two years after its formation.
The numbers which follow the names of boryokudan groups refer to the group's leadership. For example, Yoshinori Watanabe head the Yamaguchi-gumi fifth; on his retirement, Shinobu Tsukasa became head of the Yamaguchi-gumi sixth, an "Yamaguchi-gumi VI" is the group's formal name.
|Name||Heidquairters||Reg. in||Name||Heidquairters||Reg. in|
|18px Inagawa-kai||Tokyo||1992||Shinwa-kai II||Kagawa||1992|
|Kudo-kai IV||Fukuoka||1992||Kyodo-kai III||Hiroshima||1993|
|Okinawa Kyokuryu-kai||Okinawa||1992||Sakaume-gumi VIII||Osaka||1993|
|Kyosei-kai V||Hiroshima||1992||Azuma-gumi II||Osaka||1993|
|18px Kozakura-ikka IV||Kagoshima||1992||Fukuhaku-kai III||Fukuoka||2000|
|Asano-gumi IV||Okayama||1992||Kyushu Seido-kai||Fukuoka||2008|
Other notable bōryokudan[eedit | eedit soorce]
Fitmerks[eedit | eedit soorce]
- "Criminal Investigation: Fight Against Organized Crime (1)" (PDF). Overview of Japanese Police. National Police Agency. Juin 2007. Retrieved 2008-06-23.
- Corkill, Edan, "Ex-Tokyo cop speaks out on a life fighting gangs — and what you can do", Japan Times, 6 November 2011, p. 7.
- Kaplan, David; Dubro, Alec (2004), pp. 18–21 Missing or empty
- Bruno, Anthony. "The Yakuza - Oyabun-Kobun, Father-Child". truTV. Retrieved 28 Februar 2012.
- The Yakuza, the Japanese Mafia - The Crime Library - Crime Library on truTV.com
- Japanorama, BBC Three, Series 2, Episode 3, first aired 21 September 2006
- Johnston, Eric, "From rackets to real estate, yakuza multifaceted", Japan Times, 14 February 2007, p. 3.
- "Police of Japan 2011, Criminal Investigation : 2. Fight Against Organized Crime", December 2009, National Police Agency
- "The Organized Crime Countermeasures Law", The Fukuoka Prefectural Center for the Elimination of Boryokudan (in Japanese)
- "Boryokudan Comprehensive Measures — The Condition of the Boryokudan", December 2010, Hokkaido Prefectural Polis (in Japanese)
- "List of Designated Bōryokudan", February 24, 2011, Nagasaki Prefectural Police (in Japanese)
- "Retrospection and Outlook of Crime Measure", p.15, Masahiro Tamura, 2009, National Police Agency (in Japanese)