This month, another act to put pressure upon Japanese organized crimes by US was taken (US blacklists 4 members of Japan crime syndicate – San Jose Mercury News). While Obama vs Yakuza, Japanese crime syndicates, is underway, I have been seeing the yakuza-related scandal on the media more frequently than before. It might be because of efforts by US government all the way through pacific ocean.
Yakuza or more commonly dubbed in Japan, “boryoku-dan”, is not so far away from everyday life. In fact, a few week ago when I was waiting to see the 3D movie, “Gravity”, sitting in the seat in the theater, the footage of “Don’t make relationship with Boryoku-dan” was on the screen among the other commercial videos. Certainly, It would be necessary in Japan even when people are watching a space movie, not a yakuza movie.
Anyway, Today I collected the incidents related with yakuza and Japanese business ranging from banking, sports, and to entertainment. Almost all were happened this year, so it could be a bit of omnibus of underground society in 2013.
1) TEPCO, the central player of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, is famous for recruiting workers through illegal brokers. In How the Yakuza went nuclear – Telegraph, Tomohiko Suzuki, the investigative journalist and author of “ヤクザと原発 福島第一潜入記” talked about it. According this article:
Suzuki discovered evidence of Tepco subcontractors paying yakuza front companies to obtain lucrative construction contracts; of money destined for construction work flying into yakuza accounts; and of politicians and media being paid to look the other way.
The more detailed report on how workers are forced to work with lack of compliance on radiation level are in the post as well.
2) It was revealed this year that The Japanese major bank, Mizuho Financial Group, had been funding to yakuza group in an indirect way (Japan’s three biggest banks face yakuza links inquiry):
A consumer finance firm affiliated with Mizuho was found to have extended more than $2m dollars (£1.2m) in loans to people tied to the yakuza, the name given to Japan’s influential network of crime syndicates.
What’s worse, according The Guardian’s report, they are not innocent at all –“Initially, Mizuho said only the bank’s compliance officers had known about the loans, but later conceded that senior executives, including Sato, had also been aware of them.”
3) And Dec. 19, about a week ago, “Takayuki Ohigashi, 72, president of Ohsho Food Service Corp., known for its Gyoza no Ohsho (king of Chinese dumplings) restaurants, was found bleeding from his chest and abdomen” (Ohsho Dumpling King Dead After Suspected Shooting). After that, he died soon. The gun possession is illegal in Japan, so the murder case was suspected of involving in an organized crime.
4) We can see some relationships with yakuza in different areas of business. Sports is one of the field. For golf, it was also in October this year —Japanese PGA members to resign en masse over yakuza links. For mixed martial arts, PrideFC was chopped the contract to broadcast by Fuji Television Network, Inc., with concern over ties with yakuza in 2006.
5) Entertainment business in Japan is known for strong connection to yakuza, or other quasi-criminal group, including “Kanto-Rengo”.
This happened also a few weeks ago, Former Japanese beauty queen takes on yakuza.
Yoshimatsu says that Genichi Taniguchi, the agent that Burning Productions wanted to represent her, began harassing her by making threatening phone calls to her family, appearing unannounced at her photo shoots and having her trailed by private detectives.
The relationship between Television industry and criminal groups is recently publicized and becoming punishable. The most shocking incident related this is the sudden retirement of the top comedian and host of many TV programs, Shinsuke Shimada (Japanese TV host Shinsuke Shimada resigns over yakuza links).
Also, there was a controversial statement, and it resulted in a excuse and apology afterward, in which the advocacy of supporting yakuza mentioning about the Shinsuke’s scandal, by Tomoaki Ogura, even now taking the host of morning news on weekdays, “Tokudane!”. This part of video in the TV show was captured.
If I pick up some statements of him and translate, “The more the name come on to public, the more often he face troubles , and when police, attorney, his agency and company cannot treat with that, it is the fact that there are those who resolve the trouble.” And “When those who are in underground society, it must occur that the trouble is fixed by them unknowingly.”
I think those remarks represent the view that yakuza is necessary evil for business and society. And the feeling is still filled in the air in Japan.