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For ither uises, see Yakuza (disambiguation).
"Yakuza" written in katakana
Presumit oreegin The Kabuki-mono
Creation 17t century
Actual number 102,400 members[1]
Principal clans

1. Yamaguchi-gumi 2. Sumiyoshi-kai

3. Inagawa-kai
Activities Creeminal activities an/or legitimate businesses

Yakuza (ヤクザ or やくざ), kent as gokudō (極道) anaw, are members o traditional organizit creeme syndicates in Japan. The Japanese polis, an media bi request o the polis, caw them bōryokudan (暴力団), literally "violence group", while the yakuza caw thairsels "ninkyō dantai" (任侠団体 or 仁侠団体), "chivalrous organisations". The yakuza are notoriously kent for thair strict codes o conduct an vera organizit natur. Thay are vera prevalent in the Japanese media an operate internaitionally wi an estimatit 102,400 members.[2]

Diveesions o oreegin[eedit | eedit soorce]

Despite uncertainty aboot the single oreegin o yakuza organisations, maist modren yakuza derive frae twa classifications which emergit in the mid-Edo Period (1603–1868): tekiya, those who primarily peddled illicit, stolen or shoddy guids; an bakuto, those who wur involvit in or pairticipatit in gamblin.[3]

Tekiya (peddlers) wur considered ane o the lawest social groups in Edo. As thay began tae form organisations o thair awn, thay teuk wer some admeenistrative duties relatin tae commerce, sic as staw allocation an pertection o thair commercial activities. Durin Shinto festivals, thir peddlers opened stalls an some members wur hired tae act as security. Each peddler peyed rent in exchynge for a staw assignment an pertection durin the fair.

Thoroughoot history, especially syne the modren era, the Kyushu island haes been the lairgest soorce o the yakuza members, includin mony renouned bosses in the Yamaguchi-gumi. Isokichi Yoshida (1867–1936) wis frae the Kitakyushu aurie an considered the first renouned modren yakuza. Recently Shinobu Tsukasa an Kunio Inoue, the bosses o the twa maist pouerful clans in the Yamaguchi-gumi, are frae Kyushu. Fukuoka, the northmaist pairt o the island, haes the lairgest nummer o designatit syndicates amang aw o the prefecturs.

The Edo govrenment eventually formally recognizit sic tekiya organisations an grantit the oyabun (leaders) o tekiya a surname as well as permission tae cairy a sword — the wakizashi, or short samurai swuird (the richt tae cairy the katana, or full-sized samurai swuirds, remained the exclusive richt o the nobility an samurai castes). This wis a major step forward for the traders, as anerlie umwhile samurai an noblemen wur allouit tae cairy swuirds.

Bakuto (gamblers) haed a hintle lawer social staundin even than traders, as gamblin wis illegal. Mony sma gamblin hooses cropped up in abandoned temples or shrines at the edge o touns an veelages aw ower Japan. Maist o thir gamblin hooses ran loan shairkin businesses for clients, an thay uisually maintained thair awn security personnel.

The places thairsels, as well as the bakuto, wur regardit wi disdain bi society at lairge, an hintle o the undesirable image o the yakuza oreeginates frae bakuto; this includes the name yakuza itsel (ya-ku-za, or 8-9-3, is a luisin haund in Oicho-Kabu, a form o blackjack).

Acause o the economic situation durin the mid-period an the predominance o the merchant class, developin yakuza groups wur composit o misfits an delinquents that haed jynt or formit yakuza groups tae extort customers in local mercats bi sellin fake or shoddy guids.[3]

The ruits o the yakuza can still be seen the day in initiation ceremonies, which incorporate tekiya or bakuto rituals. Awtho the modren yakuza haes diversifeed, some gangs still identifee wi ane group or the ither; for example, a gang whose primary soorce o income is illegal gamblin mey refer tae thairsels as bakuto.

Organization an activities[eedit | eedit soorce]

Structur[eedit | eedit soorce]

Yakuza hierarchy

Durin the formation o the yakuza, thay adoptit the traditional Japanese hierarchical structur o oyabun-kobun whaur kobun (子分; lit. foster bairn) awe thair allegiance tae the oyabun (親分; lit. foster parent). In a hintle later period, the code o jingi (仁義, juistice an duty) wis developit whaur lyalty an respect are a wey o life.

The oyabun-kobun relationship is formalizit bi ceremonial sharin o sake frae a single cup. This ritual is no exclusive tae the yakuza—it is an aw commonly performit in traditional Japanese Shinto weddins, an mey hae been a pairt o sworn britherhuid[4] relationships.

Durin the Warld War II period in Japan, the mair traditional tekiya/bakuto form o organisation declined as the entire population wis mobilisit tae pairticipate in the war effort an society came unner strict military govrenment. Efter the war, housomeivver, the yakuza adaptit again.

Prospective yakuza come frae aw walks o life. The maist romantic tales tell hou yakuza accept sons who hae been abandoned or exiled bi thair parents. Mony yakuza stairt oot in junior heich schuil or heich schuil as common street thugs or members o bōsōzoku gangs. Perhaps acause o its lawer socio-economic status, numerous yakuza members come frae Burakumin an ethnic Korean backgrunds.

Yakuza groups are heidit bi an oyabun or kumichō (組長, faimily heid) who gies orders tae his subordinates, the kobun. In this respect, the organisation is a variation o the traditional Japanese senpai-kōhai (senior-junior) model. Members o yakuza gangs cut thair faimily tees an transfer thair lyalty tae the gang boss. Thay refer tae each ither as faimily members - faithers an elder an younger brithers. The yakuza is populatit amaist entirely bi men, an thare are vera few weemen involvit who are cried "nee-san" (姐さん aulder sister). When the 3rd Yamaguchi-gumi boss (Kazuo Taoka) dee'd in the early 1980s, his wife (Fumiko) teuk ower as boss o Yamaguchi-gumi, albeit for a short time.

The yakuza hae a vera complex organizational structur. Thare is an oeeraw boss o the syndicate, the kumicho, an directly beneath him are the saiko komon (senior advisor) an so-honbucho (heidquairters chief). The seicont in the chain o command is the wakagashira, who govrens several gangs in a region wi the help o a fuku-honbucho who is hissel responsible for several gangs. The regional gangs thairsels are govrened bi thair local boss, the shateigashira.[5]

Each member's connection is rankit bi the hierarchy o sakazuki (sake sharin). Kumicho are at the tap, an control various saikō-komon (最高顧問, senior advisors). The saikō-komon control thair awn turfs in different auries or ceeties. Thay hae thair awn unnerlins, includin ither unnerbosses, advisors, accoontants an enforcers.

Those who hae received sake frae oyabun are pairt o the immediate faimily an rankit in terms o elder or younger brithers. Housomeivver, each kobun, in turn, can affer sakazuki as oyabun tae his unnerlin tae form an affiliatit organisation, which micht in turn form lawer rankit organisations. In the Yamaguchi-gumi, which controls some 2,500 businesses an 500 yakuza groups, thare are even 5t rank subsidiary organisations.

Rituals[eedit | eedit soorce]

Yubitsume, or the cuttin o ane's finger, is a form o penance or apology. Upon a first offence, the transgressor must cut aff the tip o his left little finger an gie the severed portion tae his boss. Whiles an unnerboss mey dae this in penance tae the oyabun if he wants tae spare a member o his awn gang frae further retaliation.

Its oreegin stems frae the traditional wey o hauldin a Japanese swuird. The bottom three fingers o each haund are uised tae grip the swuird tichtly, wi the thumb an index fingers slichtly loose. The removal o deegits stairtin wi the little finger muivin up the haund tae the index finger progressively weakens a person's swuird grip.

The idea is that a person wi a weak swuird grip then haes tae rely mair on the group for pertection—reducin individual action. In recent years, prosthetic fingertips hae been developit tae disguise this distinctive appearance.[4]

Mony yakuza hae full-body tattoos. Thir tattoos, kent as irezumi in Japan, are still aften "haund-pokit", that is, the ink is insertit beneath the skin uisin nan-electrical, haund-made an haund held teuls wi needles o sharpened bamboo or steel. The procedur is expensive an painful an can tak years tae complete.[6]

When yakuza members play Oicho-Kabu caurds wi each ither, thay aften remuive thair shirts or open them up an drape them aroond thair waists. This allous them tae display thair full-body tattoos tae each ither. This is ane o the few times that yakuza members display thair tattoos tae others, as thay normally keep them concealed in public wi lang-sleevit an heich-neckit shirts. When new members join, thay are aften required tae remuive thair trousers as well an reveal ony lawer body tattoos.

Syndicates[eedit | eedit soorce]

The three lairgest syndicates[eedit | eedit soorce]

Awtho yakuza membership haes declined follaein an antigang law aimit specifically at yakuza an passed bi the Japanese govrenment in 1992, thare are thocht tae be mair nor 103,000 active yakuza members in Japan the day. Awtho thare are mony different yakuza groups, thegither thay form the lairgest organizit creeme group in the warld.[7]

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. Sumiyoshi-kai.svg
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

Designatit boryokudan[eedit | eedit soorce]

A designated boryokudan (指定暴力団, Shitei Bōryokudan)[8] is a "particularly harmful" yakuza group[9] registered bi the Prefectural Public Safety Commissions unner the Organizit Creeme Coontermeasurs Law (暴力団対策法, Bōryokudan Taisaku Hō) enactit in 1991.[10]

Unner the Organizit Creeme Coontermeasurs Law, the Prefectural Public Safety Commissions hae registered 22 syndicates as the designatit boryokudan groups.[11] Fukuoka Prefectur haes the lairgest nummer o designatit boryokudan groups amang aw o the prefecturs, at 5; the Kudo-kai, the Taishu-kai, the Fukuhaku-kai, the Dojin-kai an the Kyushu Seido-kai.[12]

Designatit boryokudan groups are uisually lairge, auld-established organisations (maistly formit afore the Warld War II, some even formit afore the Meiji Revolution o the 19t century), housomeivver thare are some exceptions sic as the Kyushu Seido-kai which, wi its blatant airmit conflicts wi the Dojin-kai, wis registered anerlie twa years efter its formation.

The nummers which follae the names o boryokudan groups refer tae the group's leadership. For example, Yoshinori Watanabe heidit the Yamaguchi-gumi fift; on his retirement, Shinobu Tsukasa became heid o the Yamaguchi-gumi sixt, an "Yamaguchi-gumi VI" is the group's formal name.

Name Heidquairters Reg. in Name Heidquairters Reg. in
Yamabishi.svg Yamaguchi-gumi VI Hyogo 1992 道仁会.png Dojin-kai Fukuoka 1992
18px Inagawa-kai Tokyo 1992 Shinwa-kai.png Shinwa-kai II Kagawa 1992
住吉会.png Sumiyoshi-kai Tokyo 1992 双愛会.png Soai-kai Chiba 1992
Kudo-kai.png Kudo-kai IV Fukuoka 1992 Kyodo-kai.png Kyodo-kai III Hiroshima 1993
Kyokuryu-kai.png Kyokuryu-kai IV Okinawa 1992 太州会.png Taishu-kai Fukuoka 1993
沖縄旭琉会.png Okinawa Kyokuryu-kai Okinawa 1992 酒梅組.png Sakaume-gumi VIII Osaka 1993
Aizukotetsu-kai.png Aizukotetsu-kai VI Kyoto 1992 極東会.png Kyokuto-kai Tokyo 1993
共政会.png Kyosei-kai V Hiroshima 1992 東組.png Azuma-gumi II Osaka 1993
合田一家.png Goda-ikka VII Yamaguchi 1992 松葉会.png Matsuba-kai Tokyo 1994
18px Kozakura-ikka IV Kagoshima 1992 福博会.png Fukuhaku-kai III Fukuoka 2000
Asano-gumi.png Asano-gumi IV Okayama 1992 九州誠道会.png Kyushu Seido-kai Fukuoka 2008

Ither notable bōryokudan[eedit | eedit soorce]

Name Japanese name Heidquairters Leader
Tōkyō-Morishiro-Hoshi-ikka-Ōta III 東京盛代星一家太田三代目 Iwate Seigo Ōta
Genseida-Kōyū-kai 源清田交友会 Ibaraki Shiroo Tanabe
Yorii-bunke V 寄居分家五代目 Gunma Hiroshi Godai
Kameya-ikka V 五代目亀屋一家 Saitama Akira Shirahata
Yoshiha-kai VII 七代目吉羽会 Saitama Kiyomasa Nakamura
Takezawa-kai 竹澤会 Chiba Haruo Ōtawa
Anegasaki-kai 姉ヶ崎会 Tokyo Shigetami Nakanome
Iijima-kai VIII 八代目飯島会 Tokyo Kanji Nishikawa
Okaniwa-kai 岡庭会 Tokyo Seiichiro Okaniwa
Kanda-Takagi VII 神田高木七代目 Tokyo Akira Nagamura
Shitaya-Hanajima-kai VII 下谷花島会七代目 Tokyo Isamu Ōsaka
Jōshūya-kai 上州家会 Tokyo Katsuhiko Itō
Shinmon-rengōkai 新門連合会 Tokyo Naoaki Kasama
Sugitō-kai 杉東会 Tokyo Tomoaki Nohara
Daigo-kai 醍醐会 Tokyo Hideo Aoyama
Chōjiya-kai 丁字家会 Tokyo Goro Yoshida
Toa-kai 東亜会 Tokyo Yoshio Kaneumi
Hashiya-kai 箸家会 Tokyo Hiroshi Minemura
Hanamata-kai 花又会 Tokyo Akira Kiyono
Masuya-kai 桝屋会 Tokyo Sotojiro Higashiura
Matsuzakaya-ikka V 五代目松坂屋一家 Tokyo Takiti Nishimura
Ametoku-rengōkai 飴德連合会 Kanagawa Hideya Nagamochi
Yokohama-Kaneko-kai 横浜金子会 Kanagawa Takashi Terada
Sakurai-sōke 櫻井總家 Shizuoka Hiroyoshi Sano
Chūkyō-Shinnō-kai 中京神農会 Aichi Eizō Yamagashira
Marutomi-rengōkai 丸富連合会 Kyōto Hitoshi Kitabashi
Chūsei-kai 忠成会 Hyōgo Masaaki Ōmori
Matsuura-gumi II 二代目松浦組 Hyōgo Kazuo Kasaoka
Takenaka-gumi II 二代目竹中組 Okayama Masashi Takenaka
Chūgoku-Takagi-kai II 二代目中国高木会 Hiroshima Akio Kitayama
Kumamoto-kai II 二代目熊本會 Kumamoto Yutaka Tozaki
Sanshin-kai 山心会 Kumamoto Atsushi Inoue
Murakami-gumi III 九州三代目村上組 Ōita Hajime Murakami
Shinjuku 桝屋会 Tokyo Shou Sasaki

Fitmerks[eedit | eedit soorce]

  1. "Criminal Investigation: Fight Against Organized Crime (1)" (PDF). Overview of Japanese Police. National Police Agency. Juin 2007. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  2. Corkill, Edan, "Ex-Tokyo cop speaks out on a life fighting gangs — and what you can do", Japan Times, 6 November 2011, p. 7.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Kaplan, David; Dubro, Alec (2004), pp. 18–21  Missing or empty |title= (help).
  4. 4.0 4.1 Bruno, Anthony. "The Yakuza - Oyabun-Kobun, Father-Child". truTV. Retrieved 28 Februar 2012. 
  5. The Yakuza, the Japanese Mafia - The Crime Library - Crime Library on truTV.com
  6. Japanorama, BBC Three, Series 2, Episode 3, first aired 21 September 2006
  7. Johnston, Eric, "From rackets to real estate, yakuza multifaceted", Japan Times, 14 February 2007, p. 3.
  8. "Police of Japan 2011, Criminal Investigation : 2. Fight Against Organized Crime", December 2009, National Police Agency
  9. "The Organized Crime Countermeasures Law", The Fukuoka Prefectural Center for the Elimination of Boryokudan (in Japanese)
  10. "Boryokudan Comprehensive Measures — The Condition of the Boryokudan", December 2010, Hokkaido Prefectural Polis (in Japanese)
  11. "List of Designated Bōryokudan", February 24, 2011, Nagasaki Prefectural Police (in Japanese)
  12. "Retrospection and Outlook of Crime Measure", p.15, Masahiro Tamura, 2009, National Police Agency (in Japanese)