Japan for the majority seems to be a high-tech society with its own culture. These are the real crime syndicates that define the local criminal world.
Compared with the yakuza in terms of influence can, for example, the Asian triads or the mafia in the West. They say that this mafia even has its own office buildings, and its actions are openly discussed in the press.
The yakuza appeared in the 17th century, when the feudal lords suddenly began to realize that an open fight with the enemy, as samurai do, is less effective than a hidden and invisible one. But in the West they know very little about it, so it's worth telling about the most interesting facts about this secretive organization.
Sokaya is a bribery organization. The word sokaya implies not just bribery, but its large-scale form, which is practiced by the yakuza. The Japanese mafia first acquires a large block of shares in companies, sufficient for a presence and vote on the board of directors. After that, the criminals try to find out as much information as possible about the company's management, looking for compromising evidence on them. Then a kind of trading begins. The Yakuza threatens shareholders with the release of confidential information, forcing them to pay for silence. This is a very serious threat because in Japanese corporate culture, shame is a powerful lever of pressure, so this tactic is usually successful. The unusual thing about this bribery is that it all happens with utmost politeness. The threats themselves, as well as the payment for silence, are not made directly, but in roundabout ways. For example, the yakuza can arrange some kind of competition or sports competition, and the victims are unobtrusively recommended to purchase tickets at very high prices. I must say that such a fate awaited many Japanese companies. For example, one of the extortionists went to jail for eight months after trying to blackmail the management of Mitsubishi. A yakuza representative tried to take advantage of information about the illegal use of rent payments for the holiday home by officials. Already in 1982, Sokaya reached such an impressive scale that the government even introduced a number of laws that forbade paying extortionists. But there was little benefit from this. The Yakuza immediately reacted to this by coming up with a more complex scheme to conceal their activities. Leaders often have to indulge the yakuza, because information about participation in the past in sokaya threatens a criminal case. Today corporations have come up with their own effective way to fight ransomware - holding shareholder meetings on the same day across the country. As a result, members of the mafia cannot physically be in several places at the same time. Such a measure was adopted at the Tokyo Stock Exchange. There, in 90% of cases, corporations hold their annual meetings on the same day.
A tough fight against the yakuza. The Japanese authorities know a lot about the country's largest crime syndicate, Yamaguchi-gumi. Recently, the US government and its branches for combating organized crime have also joined in the fight against him. American citizens were simply barred from making any financial deals with the head of the syndicate, Kenichi Shinoda. His "right hand" Kiyoshi Takayama was also blacklisted. And all the assets of the organization in the United States were frozen. In Japan, laws have also emerged that are intended to sever the yakuza's ties to law-abiding businesses. Earlier in the Land of the Rising Sun, measures were limited only to the introduction of fines for those enterprises that cooperate with crime. The new measures have been surprisingly effective. As a result, the number of representatives of the yakuza in Japan dropped to a record level in the last half century. The Synod itself believes that the disappearance of his syndicate will become a problem for the country. After all, thousands of unemployed bandits will take to the streets, which will become a threat to public order in Japan.
Helping those in need from the yakuza. In 2011, natural bad weather came to Japan - the country was attacked by a powerful tsunami. But among the first organizations who came with help to the affected areas were the yakuza. And this case is not at all uncommon - back in 1995, after the earthquake in the large city of Kobe, members of the mafia organized the delivery of valuable goods to the destroyed quarters of the metropolis. For this, the yakuza used helicopters, boats and scooters. There is even a legend that the yakuza always helps those in need when they need it. After all, the members of the criminal organization are outcasts who cannot but sympathize with those who have suffered from inattention on the part of the official authorities. Other people adhere to a more practical and cynical point of view, for them this behavior of the mafiosi is just a form of PR and a way to get public support. Well, after such a charity, how to call society to fight the yakuza? However, it is not only the image that the yakuza gains with the help of such good deeds. They also bring significant financial benefits to criminal syndicates. In the immediate aftermath of the 2011 earthquake, yakuza-controlled organizations were able to secure lucrative government construction contracts. The disaster turned out to be so large-scale that the authorities were simply forced to resort to the help of dubious firms. Moreover, the underground syndicates do not openly advertise themselves, trying to act through shell companies. And go and figure out which of them is associated with crime. Interestingly, one such contract put the head of the shell company in jail. He simply put part of the salaries of his own employees in his pocket, believing that the yakuza could protect him.
Yakuza magazine. It is customary in Yamaguchi-gumi to distribute newsletters to all members. Last time they went to 28 thousand members of the organization. This distinctive corporate magazine called Yamaguchi-gumi Shinpo also published haiku and articles on fishing. The editors expressed the opinion of the head of the syndicate that difficult times are coming for him. At that time, the yakuza were really doing badly, so the magazine became a kind of tool for raising the mood of its criminal readers. Surprisingly, some copies of the publication also fell into the hands of ordinary peaceful Japanese. Experts believe such a "blunder" is not accidental. The Yakuza knew that rumors of the magazine's release would leak. So the mailing was carried out deliberately not only to the members of the syndicate, but also to some ordinary citizens. So the mafia tried to diminish its existing violent reputation in the eyes of fellow citizens.
Yubitsume ritual. In the yakuza, it is customary to punish those who are guilty in their own way. Bandits who have done wrong from the point of view of the entire organization are forced to chop off the tip of their own finger. This is called yubitsume. If for the first offense only the tip of the little finger is chopped off, then further offenses entail serious injuries. As a result, many Japanese mafiosi have their left little finger partially or completely missing, and sometimes there are no other fingers either. On the one hand, you can see who is in front of you. On the other hand, it is clear that this is not the most successful mafia, since he was repeatedly punished. Such a ritual even laid the foundation for the demand for artificial fingers. It is clear that their absence on the hand is a seal of shame. It is difficult to hide it, but simply necessary - most Japanese are aware of the yubitsume ritual. The famous English skin expert, Professor Alan Roberts, exported so many natural-looking prostheses to Japan that he even received the nickname "Mister Finger" in the Yakuza. Obviously, his services are in demand.
Complex tattoos. An important part of the yakuza cult is the unusual colored tattoos on the bodies of criminals. Japanese mafiosi use the traditional method of manually injecting ink under their skin. This method is called irezumi and is extremely painful. But after going through this procedure, you can prove your courage. It should be noted that color tattoos have recently become popular among ordinary Japanese people. The most popular drawings are women, dragons and mountains. And although tattoos have spread in ordinary society, members of a criminal organization are still associated with them. The mayor of Osaka city even banned such wearable arts for government employees. The official asked his subordinates to either get rid of the tattoo or look for another job.
Yakuza and court. We are not surprised that our criminals are being tried, but lawsuits against criminal structures are possible only in Japan. Not long ago, a restaurant owner sued Kenichi Shinoda, the most powerful head of the Yamaguchi-gumi. The woman argued that the yakuza should be held accountable for their representatives, who extorted money from her for protection and threatened to burn her establishment. The owner of the restaurant officially demanded that the yakuza pay her 17 million yen, or $ 2.8 million, in damages. And this is not the first time a yakuza has been sued. Something similar happened in 2008. Several citizens then went to court to evict Doinkai's gang from their headquarters in Kurume City. After the organization began to collapse from the inside, thanks to internecine clashes in the struggle for leadership, a real brutal war broke out. The townspeople claimed that they had the right to live in peace, so they demanded that the bandits leave their city. But the yakuza does not always side with the defendant. In early 2013, the southern Kudo-kai syndicate was officially labeled “dangerous” by law enforcement. Yakuza members became involved in a series of attacks on the headquarters of another mafia organization. The bandits even used grenades in these attacks. At the trial, lawyer Kudo-kai said that such a description of his clients is unfair. The fact is that the syndicate is only one of five that operate in this region. Such infringement of the rights of the Yakuza, according to the lawyer, is a violation of the country's Constitution.
Exams for the mafia. In 2009, at Yamaguchi-gumi, members of the organization were forced to take a special 12-page test. The mafia took such a step after the government took serious steps against organized crime. It was believed that thanks to these exams, the members of the syndicate will be able to protect themselves from various troubles and demonstrate their knowledge of the laws. The questionnaire contained many different topics, ranging from illegal garbage disposal to driving cars. It seems ridiculous that evil tattooed thugs sit meekly in the audience and pass exams, carefully memorizing all the answers. However, this approach gives a broad overview of the entire Japanese economy. It has long been believed that it is the yakuza that is a kind of criterion for national culture and economy. And even if the bandits admit that their organization is in crisis at these times and are ready to do anything to minimize problems, then the rest of the Japanese are no better off.
Initiation into the yakuza. It is known that in Japan, newly converted mafia members are forced to act as subordinates for more experienced members of the organization. Newbies are called kobun, which literally means "the role of a child." Over the long years of the existence of the local mafia, a rather complicated management structure has been developed in it. So it’s not easy to reach the top; there are many steps to overcome. The initiation ritual for the novice is based on a sake ceremony called sakazukigoto. The initiate is seated opposite his oyabun, the leading member of the group, a kind of "father". Meanwhile, other members of the mafia are preparing a drink. The beginner is entitled to a smaller portion of the drink, while his teacher is entitled to a full cup. This emphasizes the status of a gang member. After each drinks from their cup, they are exchanged. This is how the ceremony ends. The ritual itself involves the creation of a bond between oyabun and kobun, which resembles the bond between an adoptive father and son. The ceremony of drinking sake is generally quite traditional for Japanese culture, so invisible connections between people are created. This drink itself is considered as a link between people and deities, and also allows you to strengthen the relationship between people. Sake seems to be blessing a good harvest. This ceremony is considered historical and even religious. It is no coincidence that it is held in a Japanese Shinto shrine.
Yakuza and politics. In 2012, a high-profile political scandal erupted in Japan. The Minister of Justice was forced to resign after it became known about his ties with the yakuza. But Japanese politicians have not always shied away from their relationship with the mafia. For example, it is known that the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which ruled Japan for 54 of the last 58 years, did not hesitate to cooperate with the yakuza. It is known that the first prime minister from the LDP, Nobusuke Kishi, actively interacted with Yamaguchi-gumi. In 1971, he, along with some other politicians, even made a bail for a mafia leader, convicted, among other things, for murder. The premiere was also seen at weddings and funerals of members of the mafia syndicate. In elections, yakuza members usually play a prominent role - they act as agitators and bodyguards. By being organized, gangs can provide the right candidates with a large number of votes in an election. One yakuza official in Kyoto said he could secure a minimum of 30,000 votes to elect a certain official. And at least four other prime ministers had definite ties to the yakuza. This includes Noburu Takeshita, who came to power in 1987. Shortly before the elections, ultra-right opponents began to put pressure on him. The politician had to turn to the largest yakuza structure in Tokyo, Inagawa-kai, for help. The Mafia quickly solved all the problems of the future prime minister. But in the country, many began to ask questions about the excessively comfortable stay of the ruling elite under the protection of organized crime.