Welcome to JapanUptown.Com We are looking for guest writers who are willing to contribute photos, articles or information for this blog. If you interested to be one, just use our submit form to submit document files of the article or use contact form to email us for any inquiry.
Japanese Yakuza, History and Current News
In Japan, there is a special name for what we knew as ‘mafia’ or gangsters. They are called the yakuza. Yakuza can be considered as Japan’s organized criminals, divided into about 2,500 families or clans with possibily about more than 100,000 members altogether. Despite of their notorious demeanor and violent nature, their existence are accepted by the police and the Japanese society. The principal or top yakuza family would have to be the Yamaguchi-gumi. Others are like Sumiyoshi-kai, Inagawa-kai and Toa-kai.
Tracking their origin, the history of Yakuza may have been dated back since the Tokugawa Shogunate where many samurai warriors were left unemployed due the current political and economic stability during that time. Many of them resort to the trading industries instead, but some still left, and still unemployed and called as –ronin- resorting to thievery and other notorious works to support their lives.
Pretty much like the Italian mafia, Yakuza also follows the familial system but not base on blood, instead, on adoption, and they are people who highly value the concept of bushido – or way of the samurai, which they incalcute in their way of living. The bind that existed in a yakuza family, especially between the leader of the family and the follower is base on high sense of respect and loyalty.
The image of a typical yakuza member is someone with a shiny suit, greased hair, a flashy car, elaborate full-body tattoos, and a little finger missing its tip if he has had to make retribution to a boss for some misdemeanour in the past. Although not all yakuza look like this, they certainly do not make any attempt to hide their existence in any way. Just like criminals in all other countries, yakuza mainly involved in illegal conducts such as extortion, smuggling, drugs, prostitution and they have a pretty close links with the construction industry in Japan.
I think you can simply catch yakuza in actions in many yakuza movies (yakuza no eiga), TV dramas, in comics (manga) and they even have yakuza games on platforms such as Playstation and Wii. I’m quite surprised to find some facts about the yakuza doing charity deeds as well. In the massive earthquake that happened in Kobe in 1995, the Yamaguchi clan had also been part of the relief team to bring food and support to the earthquake victims. Well, they are still humans afterall.
And, of course they are not immune to law and order as well. Recent news found out that the same principal clan- the Yamaguchi clan has set up (or more like forcing) its members to take up a certain written test examination which they’ve prepared with the sole intention of reducing their lawsuit costs which had been considerably high year after year.
Read more of the news: Yakuza Group Forcing Member to Take ‘Gangster Exam’
Read more on Yakuza (wikipedia)