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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Tokyo, Okinawa usher in antigang legislation

Local ordinances prohibiting companies from trading with organized crime syndicates will be put into force Saturday in Tokyo and Okinawa with the expectation of stopping their cash flow funds and eventually putting the mob out of business.

Some legal experts welcome the moves by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Okinawa Prefectural Government, but they also urge local police to properly disclose to the general public detailed information about gangs so they can avoid trading with them and provide concrete examples of cases being banned by the new ordinances.

Tokyo and Okinawa are the last prefectures to enforce such measures against underworld syndicates.

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