Japan: Disturbing trend in gang violence

Underworld organizations are stepping up their attacks on enterprises in the wake of efforts by prefectural governments to enforce bylaws that prevent businesses from distributing profits to gangsters and keep gangsters from participating in public works projects.

These bylaws are also making it more difficult for gangs to collect protection fees from enterprises. In the past, gangsters threatened businesses mainly by firing bullets at their buildings. Following the enforcement of the anti-gang bylaws, company presidents and executives themselves are being targeted. The crimes are premeditated, with few clues, if any, left in most cases. It appears that underworld organizations are trying to shift the status quo back in their favor.

The trend in Fukuoka Prefecture is especially worrisome; in 2011, the prefecture experienced a nation-leading 18 shooting incidents. In nine of the incidents, enterprises or their officials were the targets. On Nov. 26, a construction company executive was shot to death in Kokura Kita Ward, Kitakyushu. Last month, on Jan. 17, a construction company president was seriously injured when he was shot in the stomach and the arm by a man who approached him in front of a branch of his company in Nakama.

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