Thought Catalog

15 Scary Things You Didn’t Know About The Yakuza

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image - Flickr / elmimmo
image – Flickr / elmimmo

1. The Yakuza “employ” more than 100,000 people, effectively making them the largest criminal organization in the world.

2. The name Yakuza comes from Oicho-Kabu, a game similar to blackjack. Ya-ku-za (8-9-3) is said to be a losing hand.

3. The power structure within a Yazuka crime syndicate is a typical pyramid structure, with the head at the top and power disseminated into his loyal henchmen. However, it gets a little more complicated. True to Japanese tradition, there is unwavering loyalty and complete obedience that comes with this. Oyabun — or the father counsels and protects the kobun — the child, and the kobun is expected to lay down his life for the oyabun.

4. Yakuza membership surged to 184,000 members after World War II, which is just half the entire Japanese police force (291,475 personnel in 2010).

5. Punishment is doled out through physical violence. Failure to complete a task ends up with yubizume, which is amputation of a part of the little finger. This act makes it so that the punished becomes more dependent on his superior for protection. In the Meiji era, that meant the amputee would not be able to wield his sword as freely as he would’ve with his finger.

6. Yoshio Kodama united the Yakuza factions and became the first “godfather”. He was extremely right-wing and funneled money into the Liberal Democratic Party — an anti-communist right-wing political party.

7. Komada was behind the 1976 Lockheed scandal, which saw Lockheed pay $3 million in bribes to Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka.

8. Sumo wrestling events are usually rife with Yakuza members.

9. Kazuo Taoka was the oyabun of Japan’s largest Yakuza family, Yamaguchi-gumi. He was nicknamed “Kuma” (“Bear”) for attacking his opponent’s eyes. He was shot in the back of the neck, but survived. His attacker was found dead weeks later in some woods surrounding Kobe.

10. The Yakuza have a firm hand in the pornography industry in Japan. But that’s not all, they also have a big role in sex trafficking and firearms smuggling.

11. The Yakuza are adept at corporate blackmail and extortion. They have a specific group dedicated for this, called sokaiya. The sokaiya gather information about the company — especially on the officers. Once they get details on mistresses, violations swept under the rug, secret meetings, financial problems, they extort the management for “compensation.” And the sokaiya always gets what they want.

12. There are reported Yakuza activity in the United States. Most of the activity is in Hawaii, but they have been reported in California, Nevada and New York.

The yakuza have also put down roots in California where they have made alliances with Korean and Vietnamese gangs and furthered their traditional partnerships with the Chinese triads. Los Angeles is particularly attractive because of the influx of young actresses desperate to get their big break in the film industry. Yakuza shills have become adept at luring these vulnerable women into porn films and prostitution. Japanese men, whether on sex tours or at home in Japan, often desire western women, particularly blondes. – crimelibrary

13. The Yakuza see violent death as poetic, tragic and an honorable way to die. They also help the weak and steal from the rich. These romantic notions actually put the gang in a favorable light in the public’s eye.

14. The Yakuza responded to the tsunami catastrophe faster than the Japanese government did. The Yakuza delivered food, water, blankets and toiletries to evacuation centers in northeast Japan.

15. The Yakuza are known to play in the political sphere and align themselves with nationalist, right-wing parties. This bode well for the two, giving the Yakuza a place to meddle in politics within legal boundaries, and politicians to employ the Yakuza for illegal activities. TC mark

READ a shocking firsthand account of violence overseas HERE.

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    This was so fascinating!

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