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Yakusa - The International Expansion of Japan's Criminal Brotherhood

NCJ Number
Police Journal Volume: 55 Issue: 4 Dated: (October-December 1982) Pages: 355-359
R Lamont-Brown
Date Published
5 pages
This article portrays the historical background and describes the operations and philosophy of the Yakusa, Japan's criminal brotherhood similar to the Mafia, and its international expansion is considered.
The Yakusa evolved from the wandering samurai (warriors), who were enlisted by peasants during Japan's feudal period to protect their villages. With the passing of feudalism, the Yakusa became a clandestine, right-wing nationalist organization. After World War II and the development of the western concepts of democracy in Japan, the Yakusa established themselves as traditionalists opposed to democracy, communism, and organized labor. From their quasi police duties as samurai, the Yakusa developed a network of activities that have included various forms of protection, gambling, prostitution and sex-oriented enterprises, labor recruitment, theatrical productions, and sports promotions. They have sacred rites of initiation and are closely allied with Japan's religious movements. The Yakusa is estimated to have about 219,800 members divided into about 150 gangs called gumi (families). The gumi have a strict hierarchy headed by an all-powerful 'godfather.' The Yakusa has uniformed private armies as well-trained as state forces. The Yakusa are said to have infiltrated the ranks of highest diplomacy and developed an intelligence service deemed to be better than the KGB or the Chinese Secret Service. The Yakusa are establishing operations overseas in conjunction with the rapidly growing Japanese tourist industry. It is well established in Bangkok and Seoul, as well as in Hawaii and on the U.S. West Coast. It is making efforts to establish itself in Europe, the United Kingdom in particular.


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