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"Yakuza" written in katakana
Presumit oreeginThe Kabuki-mono
Creation17t century
Actual number102,400 members[1]
Principal clans1. Yamaguchi-gumi

2. Sumiyoshi-kai

3. Inagawa-kai
ActivitiesCreeminal activities an/or legitimate businesses

Yakuza (ヤクザ or やくざ), kent as gokudō (極道) anaw, are members o traditional organised crime 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 themselves "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 very organised naitur. Thay are very prevalent in the Japanese media an operate internationally wi an estimatit 102,400 members.[2]

Divisions and origin[eedit | eedit soorce]

Despite uncertainty aboot the single origin o yakuza organisations, maist modren yakuza derive frae twa classifications which emerged in the mid-Edo Period (1603–1868): tekiya, those who primarily peddled illicit, stolen or shoddy goods; an bakuto, those who war involved in or participated in gambling.[3]

Tekiya (peddlers) war considered ane o the lowest social groups in Edo. As thay began tae form organisations o thair ain, thay teuk ower some administrative duties relating tae commerce, sic as staw allocation an pertection o thair commercial activities. During Shinto festivals, thair peddlers opened stalls an some members war hired tae act as security. Each peddler peyed rent in exchange for a staw assignment an pertection during 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 recognised sic tekiya organisations an granted the oyabun (leaders) o tekiya a surname as well as permission tae cairy a swuird — the wakizashi, or short samurai swuird (the right tae cairy the katana, or full-sized samurai swuirds, remained the exclusive right o the nobility an samurai castes). This wis a major step forrit for the traders, as anly umwhile samurai an noblemen war allowed tae cairy swuirds.

Bakuto (gamblers) haed a hintle lawer social staundin even than traders, as gambling wis illegal. Mony sma gambling houses cropped up in abandoned temples or shrines at the edge o towns an villages aw ower Japan. Most o thair gambling houses ran loan sharking businesses for clients, an thay uisually maintained thair ain security personnel.

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

Because o the economic situation during the mid-period an the predominance o the merchant class, developin yakuza groups war componed o misfits an delinquents that haed jynt or formed yakuza groups tae extort customers in local markets bi selling fake or shoddy goods.[3]

The rites o the yakuza can still be seen tae this day in initiation ceremonies, which incorporate tekiya or bakuto rituals. Awtho the modren yakuza haes diversified, some gangs still identify wi ony group or the ither; for ensaumple, a gang whose primary soorce o income is illegal gambling mey refer tae themselves as bakuto.

Organization and activities[eedit | eedit soorce]

Structure[eedit | eedit soorce]

Yakuza hierarchy

During the formation o the yakuza, thay adoptit the traditional Japanese hierarchical structur o oyabun-kobun whaur kobun (子分; lit. foster bairn) owe 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 developed, whaur lealtie an respect are a wey o life.

The oyabun-kobun relationship is formalised bi ceremonial sharin o sake frae a single cup. This ritual is nae exclusive tae the yakuza—it is an aw commonly performed in traditional Japanese Shinto weddings, an mey hae been a pairt o sworn brotherhood[4] relationships.

During the World War II period in Japan, the mair traditional tekiya/bakuto form o organisation declined as the entire population wis mobilised tae pairticipate in the war effort an society came unner strict military govrenment. Efter the war, houiver, the yakuza adoptit it again.

Prospective yakuza come frae aw walks o life. The maist romantic tales tell how yakuza acceptit sons who haed 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. Aiblins acause o its lawer socio-economic status, numerous yakuza members come frae Burakumin an ethnic Korean backgrounds.

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 ties an transfer thair lealtie tae the gang boss. Thay refer tae ilk ither as faimily members - faithers an elder an younger brithers. The yakuza is populated awmaist entirely bi men, an thare are very few weemen involved, who are cried "nee-san" (姐さん aulder sister). When the third Yamaguchi-gumi boss (Kazuo Taoka) died in the early 1980s, his wife (Fumiko) teuk ower as boss o the Yamaguchi-gumi, albeit for a short time.

The yakuza hae a very complex organisational structur. Thare is an oweraw boss o the syndicate, the kumicho, an directly beneath him are the saiko komon (senior advisor) an so-honbucho (headquarters chief). The seicont in the chain o command is the wakagashira, who governs several gangs in a region wi the help o a fuku-honbucho who is himsel responsible for several gangs. The regional gangs themselves are governed bi thair local boss, the shateigashira.[5]

Each members connection is ranked 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 ain turfs in different auries or ceeties. Thay hae thair ain underlings, includin ither underbosses, advisors, accountants an enforcers.

Those who hae received sake frae the oyabun are pairt o the immediate faimily an ranked in terms o elder or younger brithers. Houiver, each kobun, in turn, can offer sakazuki as oyabun tae his underling tae form an affiliated organisation, which much in turn form lawer ranked 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 cutting o ane's finger, is a form o penance or apology. Upon a first offence, the transgressor must cut off the tip o his left little finger an gie the severed portion tae his boss. While an underboss mey dae this in penance tae the oyabun if he wants tae spare a member o his ain gang frae faur retaliation.

Its origin stems frae the traditional wey o holding a Japanese swuird. The bottom three fingers o each haund are uised tae grip the swuird tightly, 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 waikens a persons grip on the swuird.

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

Mony yakuza hae full-body tattoos. Thair tattoos, kent as irezumi in Japan, are still eften "hand-picked", that is, the ink is inserted beneath the skin uisin non-electrical, haund-made an haund held tuils wi needles or sharpened bamboo or steel. The procedure is expensive an painful an can tak years tae complete.[6]

When yakuza members play Oicho-Kabu cards wi ilk ither, thay eften remove thair shirts or open them up an drape them aroond thair waists. This allows them tae display thair full-body tattoos tae ilk 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-sleeves an heich-necked shirts. When new members join, thay are eften required tae remove thair trousers as well an reveal anly lawer body tattoos.

Syndicates[eedit | eedit soorce]

The three largest syndicates[eedit | eedit soorce]

Awtho yakuza membership haes declined follaein an anti-gang law aimed specifically at yakuza an passed bi the Japanese govrenment in 1992, thair 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 organised crime group in the world.[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.
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. File:Inagawa-kai.svg

Designated bōryokudan[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 Organised Crime Countermeasures Law (暴力団対策法, Bōryokudan Taisaku Hō) enactit in 1991.[10]

Unner the Organised Crime Countermeasures Law, the Prefectural Public Safety Commissions haes registered 22 syndicates as the designated boryokudan groups.[11] Fukuoka Prefectur haes the lairgest nummer o designated boryokudan groups amang ony o the prefectures, at 5; the Kudo-kai, the Taishu-kai, the Fukuhaku-kai, the Dojin-kai an the Kyushu Seido-kai.[12]

Designated boryokudan groups are uisually lairge, auld-established organisations (maistly formed afore Warld War II, some even formed afore the Meiji Revolution o the 19t century), houiver thare are some exceptions sic as the Kyushu Seido-kai which, wi it's blatant armed conflicts wi the Dojin-kai, wis registered anly twa years efter its formation.

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

Name Heidquairters Reg. in Name Heidquairters Reg. in
Yamaguchi-gumi VI Hyogo 1992 Dojin-kai Fukuoka 1992
File:Inagawa-kai.svg Inagawa-kai Tokyo 1992 Shinwa-kai II Kagawa 1992
Sumiyoshi-kai Tokyo 1992 Soai-kai Chiba 1992
Kudo-kai IV Fukuoka 1992 Kyodo-kai III Hiroshima 1993
Kyokuryu-kai IV Okinawa 1992 Taishu-kai Fukuoka 1993
Okinawa Kyokuryu-kai Okinawa 1992 Sakaume-gumi VIII Osaka 1993
Aizukotetsu-kai VI Kyoto 1992 Kyokuto-kai Tokyo 1993
Kyosei-kai V Hiroshima 1992 Azuma-gumi II Osaka 1993
Goda-ikka VII Yamaguchi 1992 Matsuba-kai Tokyo 1994
File:Aaasd.png 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]

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 23 Juin 2008.
  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. a b Kaplan, David; Dubro, Alec (2004), pp. 18–21 Missing or empty |title= (help).
  4. a b 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" Archived 2011-08-10 at the Wayback Machine, December 2009, National Police Agency
  9. "The Organized Crime Countermeasures Law" Archived 2012-01-19 at the Wayback Machine, 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" Archived 2013-05-27 at the Wayback Machine, February 24, 2011, Nagasaki Prefectural Police (in Japanese)
  12. "Retrospection and Outlook of Crime Measure", p.15 Archived 2011-09-27 at the Wayback Machine, Masahiro Tamura, 2009, National Police Agency (in Japanese)