Japans National Policy Agency said Thursday that it will strengthen its fight against new gangs accused of repeatedly committing criminal activities such as assault and remittance fraud.
The NPA will study the networks and funding sources of such quasi-crime syndicates as some are believed to have strong connections with yakuza organized crime.
The effort will initially target dozens of former members of a biker gang known as Kanto Rengo and hundreds of members of the Dragon, a group composed of children and grandchildren of Japanese orphans left behind in China after World War II.
Police in Kobe on Thursday arrested ex-Yamaguchi-gumi gang member Toshiyuki Fukai, 54, and two accomplices for allegedly defrauding a construction company of cash in the wake of the Tohoku earthquake.
According to police, the three men posed as representatives of a large Tohoku construction contractor in April 2011, immediately following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Under that guise, they allegedly offered debris clearance work to an Osaka construction company president whom they met in a cafe.
TBS reported that the president paid a cash deposit of 10 million yen to secure the contract and assembled a team of 30 to carry out the job. However, the work never materialized and the construction company reported the meeting to the police.
Police say that the defrauded company suffered financial troubles due to the incident and is no longer operating. Fukai, a former member of the upper echelons of the Yamaguchi-gumi branch of the yakuza, and his two accomplices, have reportedly denied the charges.
The U.S. Treasury is taking action against another huge Japanese yakuza crime syndicate.
Treasury officials say the government is freezing any assets that the Inagawa-kai may have within the jurisdiction of the United States. By designating the gang a transnational criminal organization, the government also prohibits people in the U.S. from doing business with the group.
Treasury also is imposing sanctions on two of the group’s leaders, identified as head Jiro Kiyota and second-in-command Kazuo Uchibori.
Inagawa-kai is the third largest of the yakuza organizations. Officials in September imposed sanctions on two others.
The number-two man in Japans biggest yakuza group will be released on 1.5 billion yen $19 million bail ahead of his trial for extortion, a court decided Tuesday.
Kiyoshi Takayama, 64, second in command of the Yamaguchi-gumi, a vast organised crime syndicate, has been in jail accused of having extorted some 40 million yen from a constructor in 2005 and 2006, a charge that he had denied in the Kyoto District Court, a court spokesman said.Takayama is in hospital due to poor health, local media reports said.
Like the Italian mafia or Chinese triads, the yakuza engages in activities from gambling, drugs and prostitution to loan sharking, protection rackets, white-collar crime and business conducted through front companies.
The Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on Japan’s biggest yakuza group, an organized-crime syndicate that operates with relative impunity there and whose far-ranging criminal activity has become a significant concern in Washington.
In an announcement on Thursday, the department said it would freeze the American-based assets of the group, the Yamaguchi-gumi, and two of its leaders. It will also bar any transactions between Americans and members of the penalized crime syndicate. Yakuza have been tied to drug trafficking and other crimes in the United States, with particular prominence in Hawaii and California. The Treasury did not elaborate on the dollar value of United States-based accounts that might be frozen under the new sanctions.
Six months ago, Shinsuke Shimada, a comic who hosted several big primetime shows on Japanese TV, admitted ties to organized crime and resigned from showbiz. His abrupt departure caused a media sensation as it shone a harsh light on the mobs influence on the industry, and new ordinances went into effect in Tokyo and Okinawa in October making it a crime to pay off the yakuza — Japans mafia — or profit from dealing with them.But if anyone expected these “startling” events to bring significant changes, theyve since been disappointed.”The yakuza Japans equivalent of the mafia have run Japans entertainment industry since the end of WWII,” says Jake Adelstein, a crime reporter for the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper for 12 years. While many in the industry disavow any connections to the yakuza, Adelstein — who also authored “Tokyo Vice” about his underworld adventures — sees no real lessening of gang ties.
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.
Japanese tattooist Horihiro came to Melbourne for a holiday but has spent much of his time decorating the arms and backs of a lucky few.
As one of only about five masters in the world who specialise in the art of wabori – the manual tattooing of traditional images, favoured by the Japanese mafia or yakuza – Horihiro has been in high demand since arriving in December.
”I love nature. I came for a holiday, but my friend told me to bring my equipment just in case,” says the 57-year-old through an interpreter. ”I have done about seven or eight tattoos already. Not for money. Just friends, or friends of friends.”
A printers union in Hyogo Prefecture said at a meeting on Wednesday that its members will refuse to fill orders placed by gangsters, reports the Nikkei Shimbun (Oct. 26).
The Hyogo Printing Industry Association voted at a Kobe hotel in favor of its members breaking ties with organized crime and refusing to fill orders for business cards, New Year greeting cards, and declarations of membership termination in compliance with the recently enacted laws.