Japan Data

Membership In Japanese Crime Syndicates Falls to New Low


While the power of designated bōryokudan, or crime syndicates, has been on the wane in Japan, quasi-criminal groups known as hangure are becoming more active.

According to the National Police Agency, members and associates of designated crime syndicates numbered 22,400 as of the end of 2022, a year-on-year decrease of 1,700. This marks the eighteenth consecutive year-on-year decline, and the lowest number on record since 1958, when statistics were first kept.

Japan’s Organized Crime Gang Members and Associates

The number of members and associates of designated crime syndicates arrested in 2022 fell year on year by 1,832, to 9,903, dipping below 10,000 for the first time. The decrease takes place against the overall decline in the power of organized crime, which has shrunk the pool of potential arrestees.

The largest number of arrests was for violations of the Stimulants Control Act (2,141), followed by cases of fraud (1,424), assault resulting in injury (1,424), theft (847), violations of the Cannabis Control Act (619), and extortion (453). In addition, there were 79 arrests for murder.

The table below shows the strength of the major crime organizations, including members and associate members. The largest organization, Yamaguchi-gumi had 8,100 members in total, down 400 from the previous year, accounting for 36.2% of all organized crime members. The next-largest organization, Kobe Yamaguch-igumi, had 6,100 members when it was formed in 2015, but its ranks have thinned to just 760 today.

The members and associate members of these two organizations, combined with those of the four other major groups (Kizuna-kai, Ikeda-gumi, Sumiyoshi-kai, and Inagawa-kai), totals 16,100 persons, accounting for 71.9% of all gang members.

Membership of the Major Gangs

Members Associate Members
Yamaguchi-gumi 3,800 (-200) 4,300 (-200)
Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi 330 (-180) 430 (-110)
Kizuna-kai (former Ninkyō Yamaguchi-gumi) 70 (-20) 130 (-10)
Ikeda-gumi 70 (-10) 100 (-10)
Sumiyoshi-kai 2,400 (-100) 1,400 (-100)
Inagawa-kai 1,900 (0) 1,200 (0)

Created by Nippon.com based on data from the National Police Agency.

While the power of designated crime syndicates is in decline, groups defined by the National Police Agency as “quasi-criminal gangs” (hangure) have become more active. The agency does not disclose the names of these groups or the number of their members, but it is increasingly concerned that these groups are working with and prospering alongside designated crime syndicates and engaging in specialized fraud and other illegal activities to obtain funds.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: Investigators from the Fukuoka Prefectural Police raid the office of Ishida-gumi, a secondary group of the Kudō-kai s crime syndicate, in Kasuga, Fukuoka Prefecture, on November 3, 2022. © Jiji.)

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