Yakuza bosses struggling to upgrade phones from 3G

By SoraNews24

Although they have to deal with the cutthroat struggle for businesses and territory regularly, you would think that yakuza bosses balance things out by enjoying the finer things in life like expensive meals and state-of-the-art electronics.

However, when it comes to smartphones, it appears that a lot of the upper brass in these groups are unable to upgrade from those old flip phones, known as garakei or “feature phones” in Japan. This is becoming more of a pressing problem as the big three telecom companies – Au, SoftBank, and DoCoMo – are either ready to drop 3G service or already have.

Even fans of these older styles of mobile phones for their simplicity and reliability are able to get newer versions with 4G capability, but that is still not an option for older yakuza. The reason is that they have been unable to sign a contract since 2011.

That was when prefectural governments passed “Organized Crime Exclusion Ordinances” (Boryokudan Haijo Jorei) across the country, preventing companies from doing business with members of the yakuza. Since then mobile phone service providers’ contracts require signees to swear they are not members of such groups, to avoid liability in the event a customer turns out to be a mobster.

The phones themselves can be bought secondhand easily enough, but it’s the SIM card that’s the problem.

It might seem odd that these people appear to be above simply lying on the contract, but they have good reason not to. High ranking members in particular are under increased scrutiny by the police who are looking for any excuse to arrest them, and with a cut-and-dry case of contract fraud, the authorities can more thoroughly investigate their business. Another workaround would be to just get someone else to make that contract, but that too constitutes fraud and leads to the same results.

This isn’t just paranoia talking either. In 2017, Kunio Inoue, head of the Kobe Yamaguchi-Gumi, was arrested for fraud when he and a female accomplice conspired to get a new phone. The charges themselves didn’t amount to much but it allowed the Hyogo Prefectural Police to search the group’s headquarters and investigate other members.

In 2020, the Hokkaido Prefectural Police picked up a 46-year-old yakuza member for fraud because he signed a mobile contract in 2018 which had a clause in which he declared he was not a part of the group. Although not connected to smartphones, a similar incident also happened in 2019 when a member was arrested for signing a similar contract to get a part-time job at a post office.

As a result of all this, yakuza members are safer sticking with the contracts that they signed prior to 2011 and will ride those out as long as possible. That is why you’ll rarely, if ever, see an older yakuza member with a smartphone, though younger members could obtain them, having made contracts more recently before joining their particular groups.

However, as mobile phone technology continues its rapid advance, they too will run into the same problem before long.

Sources: News Post Seven, Tokyo Sports Web, Boryokudan News, Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Member of yakuza arrested for having honest job, dishonest application

-- 567 cartons of cigarettes bought with 120 smartphones at once leads to arrest in Chiba

-- 10 yakuza members arrested for stealing sea cucumbers from ocean

© SoraNews24

©2023 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Why don't the yakuza just open their own prepaid/no contract phone shop? Could be a good business.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I find this a bit funny, the yaks have money laundering off to a tee, international fraud, pachinko parlours, insurance scams, drugs importing and distrabution, prostitutuion, god know what ever they are into, but a simple old phone defeates them? wow. on the flip side if no one has these old phone except a few people, would it not be easier to track and trace there calls and movements?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I hope the Carabinieri are looking into this method...... Italy is riddled with these criminal menaces, and really don't seem able to move against them in any significant way in decades.

It's completely anachronistic that Liberal democracies should have to put up with their criminal activities and corruption, which have caused hundreds of deaths and misery for thousands more.

There is absolutely no place for gangs whatsoever in a civilised society.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Never understood why there are no pay-as-you-go phones/SIM's in Japan. I never had a (mobile) phone contract my whole life before I moved to Japan.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Back to Semaphore it is!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The yakuza are more and more cornered and on the verge of extinction, in the future it seems that they will only survive as a tourist attraction, showing their suits, big tattoos and their mutilated fingers..

Gotta admit this is hilarious.

Of course, hilarious, ironic and decadent..

I love you Japan !!..

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

For the longest time I've used data only sim for communications, they can just use prepaid sims

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I worry about over 50% of local elderly people who live around me who have flip phones. A neighbour near me can’t even use a tv remote.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

If there's a will, there's a way. They'll find a solution or loophole to this sooner or later.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

well this is possible in "fax&hanko country" like JP,i am not surprised at all.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

I guess, even a simple 10¥ phone call from those old green public phones will do. Calling the bosses of a phone company or police and then they get whatever newest equipment and sim cards they need, in return as usual offering their protection for life and property. Easy, isn’t it? lol

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Underworld problems.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

the roundabout way of Japanese authorities to do things can actually work.

think it has more to do with the age of the bosses and a total non understanding of modern technology, but I don’t discount a sales person asking are you A Yak? And they saying yes.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Who would have thought that the "exclusion ordinance" was so effective at hindering the organized crime. I will have to concede that sometimes the roundabout way of Japanese authorities to do things can actually work.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Interesting and non violent way to handle Yakuza.

I always wondered why some places asked that question “are you yakuza?” when I applied for something.

It seemed rather silly.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

The purpose for punishment and jail time is to help them to reintegrate to society, this system in Japan doesn't seem not too successful especially for current digital era.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I do not worry much for that. They will find a way

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Gotta admit this is hilarious.

16 ( +22 / -6 )

Even fans of these older styles of mobile phones for their simplicity and reliability are able to get newer versions with 4G capability, but that is still not an option for older yakuza. The reason is that they have been unable to sign a contract since 2011.

Japan has been disappointing my dreams of William Gibson-esque cyberpunk undergrounds since even before that.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

Can't you get a burner phone in Japan?

4 ( +7 / -3 )

My phone got locked,I just got a new plan and had the phone activation by calling

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

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