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The Yakuza Landscape Today

Japan’s yakuza gangs have long been a powerful presence in society, known for their strictly defined family structures and symbolic rituals. Now that police crackdowns and internal splits have made life tougher for organized crime, the yakuza world is finding itself reshaped.

Scouting for the Sex Industry: The Kabukichō Background of the Zama Killer

In October 2017, nine dismembered bodies were found at an apartment in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture. The suspected killer, Shiraishi Takahiro, had previously worked as a street scout for the sex industry in the Tokyo red-light district Kabukichō. This article uncovers the world of scouts and how it has changed under pressure from government crackdowns.

Golden Crimes: Growing Smuggling Problem Exposed by High-Profile Robberies

Gold smugglers who evade consumption tax requirements at Japanese customs can make large profits by selling the precious metal at tax-inclusive prices. The trade has expanded since the 2014 hike in consumption tax to 8%, and the huge sums of money involved have led to robberies of gold and cash.

The Upstart Gangs Filling the Yakuza Power Vacuum

As tightened legislation increasingly limited yakuza activity from the 1990s, new criminal groups emerged to fill the gaps. The most notorious of these hangure gangs was Kantō Rengō, whose name resounded through Tokyo streets in the 2000s and early 2010s. One of its former bosses, Shibata Daisuke, presents an inside view.

Outlaw Appeal: The Yakuza in Film and Print

Whether romanticized or realistic, yakuza films have a long history in Japan. Books and manga also help the public explore their enduring fascination with the nation’s gangs.

Hard-Up Yakuza Struggle to Earn a Living

Splits in the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s most powerful criminal organization, hint at tough economic times for the yakuza. Government crackdowns have dramatically reduced gangster income, dragging the group down from its once dominant position.

Fragmented Yamaguchi-gumi a Sign of Changing Yakuza Times

Japan’s biggest criminal organization, the Yamaguchi-gumi, has broken up into three groups. While this would once have heralded a likely gang war, tightened legislation has made it difficult for the yakuza to act, preserving a curious balance of power. In this unusual situation, fundamental rules of the yakuza world are crumbling.

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