Yakuza

Yakuza: Japan's Criminal Underworld

DAVID E. KAPLAN
ALEC DUBRO
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Pages: 426
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1ppxb2
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  • Book Info
    Yakuza
    Book Description:

    Known for their striking full-body tattoos and severed fingertips, Japan's gangsters comprise a criminal class eighty thousand strong--more than four times the size of the American mafia. Despite their criminal nature, the yakuza are accepted by fellow Japanese to a degree guaranteed to shock most Westerners.Yakuzais the first book to reveal the extraordinary reach of Japan's Mafia. Originally published in 1986, it was so controversial in Japan that it could not be published there for five years. But in the west it has long served as the standard reference on Japanese organized crime and has inspired novels, screenplays, and criminal investigations. This twenty-fifth anniversary edition tells the full story or Japan's remarkable crime syndicates, from their feudal start as bands of medieval outlaws to their emergence as billion-dollar investors in real estate, big business, art, and more.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95381-9
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. ABOUT THE AUTHORS
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. PREFACE TO THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    David E. Kaplan and Alec Dubro
  6. PROLOGUE: ENTER THE YAKUZA
    (pp. xvii-xxiv)

    IF YOU WANT THEYAKUZASTUFF TAKEN SERIOUSLY, THE MAN FROM JUSTICE said, start by getting rid of those stories about tattoos and missing fingers. That was the message from Washington, D.C., to Michael Sterrett in Hawaii.

    It was the spring of 1976 and Sterrett, a sharp young federal prosecutor, was making headlines in Honolulu. For three years he had journeyed to Hawaii to initiate a remarkable set of prosecutions. Working out of any available desk in Honolulu’s old federal building, Sterrett obtained a series of convictions that set back organized crime in the islands for years. Now he was...

  7. PART I: EARLY HISTORY
    • CHAPTER ONE THE HONORABLE OUTLAWS
      (pp. 3-28)

      ONE MIGHT CALL GORO FUJITA THE BARD OF THE YAKUZA AND HE WOULD NOT object. His business card, ornate even by Japanese standards, introduces the man by asking for forgiveness, explaining in humble terms that he drinks too much but is devoted to his work. He is a short, round fellow whose bushy hair hangs around a face that might belong to either a comedian or a thug, depending on his mood. He is, in fact, a former gangster, a veteran of the Tosei-kai, the largely ethnic Korean gang known for its ruthless control of nightclubs in Tokyo’s famous Ginza...

    • PART II: THE KODAMA YEARS
      • CHAPTER TWO OCCUPIED JAPAN
        (pp. 31-55)

        THE RANKING MILITARY OFFICERS OF THE U.S. OCCUPATION OFTEN GAVE press conferences, but this one was a bit out of the ordinary. It was not held in the General Headquarters building, and it was unusually combative in tone. The date was September 19, 1947, and the place was Tokyo.

        The principal speaker told the press that he had just finished addressing a meeting of Japanese public procurators—the equivalent of district attorneys—and he was now taking his case to the people. The speaker was Colonel Charles L. Kades, a former New York attorney, the assistant chief of Government Section,...

      • CHAPTER THREE NEXUS ON THE RIGHT
        (pp. 56-82)

        AS THE OCCUPATION DREW TO A CLOSE, MANY JAPANESE, ESPECIALLY THOSE on the political right, were fearful of a leftist move toward power. One of those worried was Tokutaro Kimura, the powerful minister of justice under Prime Minister Yoshida.

        As 1952 began, Kimura was nervously anticipating the April signing of the peace treaty with the United States. He called together a group of influential rightists to discuss the future. In his bookThe Great History of the Right Wing,rightist historian Bokusui Arahara re-created that scene in a Tokyo meeting room. Kimura spoke in ominous tones to his assembled colleagues:...

      • CHAPTER FOUR THE BLACK MIST
        (pp. 83-108)

        AS THE LIGHTS GLARED IN ROOM 4221 OF THE DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE Building, the Honorable Frank Church pored over his voluminous notes.

        Assembled before him stirred a huge, expectant crowd of reporters, spectators, and the investigative staff of his own Subcommittee on Multinational Corporations. It was Wednesday, February 4, 1976, and Frank Church, Democratic senator from Idaho and presidential aspirant, was ready to deliver the fruit of six months’ labor.

        At 10:01 A.M., Church called the hearing to order:

        “We will hear today first from Lockheed’s accounting firm, Arthur Young and Company, and then from the responsible Lockheed executives themselves,...

    • PART III: THE MODERN YAKUZA
      • CHAPTER FIVE THE SYNDICATES
        (pp. 111-143)

        HE WAS A MAN THE SICILIANS WOULD HAVE CALLED THE CAPODI TUTTI CAPI.At sixty-five, he reigned as the nation’s most powerful gangster thanks to the help of friends like Yoshio Kodama and to his own extraordinary abilities. He was Kazuo Taoka, third boss of the Yamaguchi-gumi and overlord of 12,000 yakuza throughout the Japanese islands.

        Taoka radiated confidence and power as he rested at his table in the Bel Ami nightclub. The club sat nestled in a crowded entertainment district of Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital and cultural center and long a Yamaguchigumi stronghold. On stage, a limbo dance...

      • CHAPTER SIX CORRUPTION, JAPANESE-STYLE
        (pp. 144-174)

        LIKE MANY GOOD CRIME STORIES, THIS ONE BEGAN BY ACCIDENT. IN MARCH of 1982, a middle-aged woman strode into the Osaka District Prosecutor’s office and lodged a complaint against her boyfriend for physically assaulting her. The alleged offender was a retired sergeant of the local police. Japanese officials did not look kindly upon one of their own involved in domestic violence, or, for that matter, in other crime. Since the war, law enforcement in Japan had won the admiration and respect of not only the Japanese people, but police forces around the world. The accomplishments of Japan’s police seemed to...

      • [Illustrations]
        (pp. None)
      • CHAPTER SEVEN THE KEIZAI YAKUZA
        (pp. 175-195)

        BABURU KEIZAIWAS THE NAME JAPANESE CAME TO CALL IT—THE BUBBLE Economy. And a great, speculative, devastating bubble it was. From the mid-1980s to 1990, the Japanese economy went on an extraordinary ride, with real estate and stock market values skyrocketing. The Bubble Economy would become one of the twentieth century’s greatest speculative fevers. Its impact would transform much of Japan and, with it, the Japanese underworld.

        The origins of the Bubble date back to a 1985 agreement among the G-7 nations to increase the yen’s value against the dollar and other currencies. Frustrated by Japan’s protectionist economy and...

      • CHAPTER EIGHT THE COLLAPSING BUBBLE
        (pp. 196-220)

        THE BURSTING OF THE BUBBLE ECONOMY STUNNED THE JAPANESE. AFTER A four-year party, Tokyo woke up to a massive hangover of bad loans, bankruptcies, and its worst economic crisis since the late 1940s. As the stock market plummeted to half its value, land prices steadily followed. Dozens of golf course developments were put on hold. The trophy properties bought overseas for top dollar were now unloaded at huge losses. Japan’s once high-flying banks found themselves holding so much bad debt that it threatened their stability. Shaken by the damage, the government and news media began a much-belated look at the...

    • PART IV: THE MOVE ABROAD
      • CHAPTER NINE METH, MONEY, AND THE SEX TRADE
        (pp. 223-250)

        POLICE OUTSIDE OF JAPAN WERE PUZZLED. FOR YEARS, THEIR COUNTERPARTS in Japan refused to admit what seemed patently obvious: the yakuza had gone international. Since the late 1960s, Japanese mobsters had popped up from Paris to Paraguay, New York to Hong Kong. They were engaged in a growing number of rackets ranging from money laundering to extortion and gunrunning. Yet in the 1980s, asked by foreigners how many yakuza were operating abroad, the NPA’s official answer was simple: there were none. Japanese officials rationalized their statements by simply declaring that all those who had left the country for extended periods...

      • CHAPTER TEN OLD MARKETS AND NEW
        (pp. 251-276)

        AT THE HEIGHT OF THE BUBBLE ECONOMY, POLICE IN CHIBA PREFECTURE, home to Tokyo’s Narita International Airport, finally started keeping tabs on just how many yakuza were heading overseas. The officials identified 2,916 yakuza traveling abroad in 1988, and 3,696 during the first nine months of 1989. Those numbers are likely conservative, given the yakuza who undoubtedly slipped through uncounted. The newspaperAsahireported that of some 87,000 yakuza in 1989, an estimated 10,000 went abroad. Half of the gangsters identified by Chiba police were headed to South Korea, followed by the Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Saipan, and Guam....

      • CHAPTER ELEVEN ACROSS THE PACIFIC
        (pp. 277-292)

        FRED GUSHIN HAD NEVER HEARD OF THE YAKUZA. THE NEW JERSEY NATIVE had spent seven years as head of enforcement for his state’s Casino Control Commission, and he had seen his share of mobsters, con men, and other crooks. But in 1991, Gushin unwittingly put himself on a collision course with the Japanese mob. That was the year he quit his job and began looking for a new challenge. An ad had caught his eye, for a position advising a new gambling commission in Tinian.

        Tinian?

        Gushin soon found himself 7,000 miles from home in the western Pacific, on a...

      • CHAPTER TWELVE TO AMERICA
        (pp. 293-324)

        IN 1975, AN UNUSUAL GANGSTER FILM STARRING ROBERT MITCHUM AND Japanese actor Ken Takakura opened in the United States to generally indifferent audiences. The unconvincing plot, the strange and highly stylized Japanese acting, and the exotic setting didn’t send Americans flocking to the box office. But viewers were probably amused by the outlandish and anachronistic swordplay, and found the finger-cutting sequences both compelling and gruesome. In any case, the movie, entitled simplyThe Yakuza,enjoyed a short run to nearly empty houses. It deserved better. It still plays occasionally on late-night television and it’s on home video, but in 1975...

    • EPILOGUE: A NEW YAKUZA
      (pp. 325-334)

      “ULTIMATELY, THE YAKUZA WILL BECOME LIKE THE U.S. MAFIA,” EXPLAINED Kakuji Inagawa, Japan’s most esteemed godfather. “In the future,” he said, “there’ll be one national mob. Like my organization, the bigger firms will take over. You can see the move toward a more corporate structure.”

      Inagawa, though, was clearly not happy about this turn of events. “The Mafia will kill for profit,” he warned. “The yakuza must respect morals and regulations and obey them—but that tradition is fading. . . . It would be easy if we could turn back the pages of time. It is because of the...

    • A NOTE ON RESEARCH
      (pp. 335-338)
    • NOTES
      (pp. 339-372)
    • GLOSSARY
      (pp. 373-376)
    • BIBLIOGRAPHY
      (pp. 377-386)
    • INDEX
      (pp. 387-400)
    • Back Matter
      (pp. 401-401)