crime

Yamaguchi-gumi launches website with song, anti-drugs message

51 Comments
By Kyoko Hasegawa

Japan's biggest organized crime syndicate has launched its own website, complete with a corporate song and a strong anti-drugs message, as the yakuza looks to turn around its outdated image and falling membership.

The clunky-sounding "Banish Drugs and Purify the Nation League" website is an offering from the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan's largest yakuza grouping.

It includes shakily-shot footage of members making their New Year pilgrimage to a shrine. The soundtrack is a traditional folk-style song with lyrics extolling the virtues of the "Ninkyo" spirit -- an ideal of masculinity that battles injustice and helps the weak.

"Nothing but Ninkyo, that is the man's way of life," say the lyrics. "The way of duty and compassion, bearing the ordeal for our dream."

Another video shows men with crew cuts pounding sticky rice for a New Year festival, and there are galleries of pictures showcasing the clean-up work members did in the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami and the 1995 Kobe earthquake.

The website is not the Yamaguchi-gumi's first foray into media -- the crime syndicate last year began publishing a magazine for its members that includes a poetry page, senior gangsters' fishing diaries and a message from the boss.

Like the Italian mob or Chinese triads, yakuza syndicates are involved in activities ranging from prostitution to extortion and white-collar crime.

But unlike their underworld counterparts elsewhere, the yakuza are not illegal and each of the designated groups, like the Yamaguchi-gumi, have their own headquarters, with senior members dishing out business cards.

They have historically been tolerated by the authorities, sometimes with corrupt police overlooking their violence, and are routinely glamorised in fanzines and manga comics.

Membership at an all-time low

But periodic crackdowns have gained momentum and there is evidence the mob's appeal is waning.

The number of people belonging to yakuza groups fell to an all-time low in 2013, slipping below the 60,000-member mark for the first time on record, police said last month.

An increasingly poor public image and Japan's flaccid economy have made the lives of the gangsters difficult, which has made membership less attractive for potential recruits, experts said.

The website, which looks outdated, is an attempt to counter the yakuza's image as "anti-social forces" -- the police euphemism for them -- by showing how neighborly its members are, experts say.

One page shows men collecting litter along the banks of the Toga River near the Yamaguchi-gumi's headquarters in Kobe, western Japan, with a nearby sign reading: "Purge yakuza."

Jake Adelstein, a journalist and author who has written extensively on organized crime in Japan, said the Yamaguchi-gumi's online offering was an effort to prove its humanitarian credentials.

"By presenting an anti-drugs theme, it shows concern for social welfare, it shows pictures of the group doing emergency relief after the (2011) and Kobe earthquakes," he told AFP.

He said it was true that the yakuza made use of their "ties to the trucking industry and their abundance of cash, lack of red tape and institutional memory" to provide help after the disasters.

But, he added, "there was a certain amount of self-interest involved -- getting in with the locals helps them get a share of the reconstruction money."

Adelstein, whose account of his life working the crime beat for a Japanese newspaper is being made into a film starring Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe, said the site was an attempt to whitewash an unsavory truth.

"The yakuza motto is 'help the weak and fight the strong.' In practice, it's usually the reverse," he said.

Police officials said they could not immediately confirm the website was made by the Yamaguchi-gumi, nor comment on it.

The website, which comes complete with a "contact us" button, can be found at: http://zenkokumayakubokumetsudoumei.com/index.html

© (c) 2014 AFP

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

51 Comments
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There is no link to a career page...

11 ( +10 / -0 )

Police officials said they could not immediately confirm the website was made by the Yamaguchi-gumi, nor comment on it.

It couldn't have been made by them. These guys are supposed to be a powerful, wealthy bunch, right? Surely they could have found a web developer to come up with a fairly decent web-page that (1) does NOT have a hit counter straight out of 1995, and (2) does NOT use a URL so hilariously long (Guy: "Dude, What's your email?" Gangster: "It's Hiroshi@zenkokumayakuboku... Guy: Hahaha... No, dude, seriously. What is it.). In their defense, accessing this link from a smartphone leads to a page apologizing for how poorly their web-skills are.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Oh that's just too funny...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Ninkyo Spirit - plus, Anti-drug stance - plus, Murder, Racketeering, and Extortion - big minus.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

They do more damage to society than drugs.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

That website is wack, sorry. It's like something from the 90's, cheesy graphics and font.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

That website is wack, sorry. It's like something from the 90's, cheesy graphics and font.

Yeah, they just gotta put in some funky midi music and maybe a large animated banner that looks like a roadblock and says "Under Construction". The site would be perfect.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

What a joke, these guys are the number 1 source of drugs in Japan.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

How can they take a stance against drugs when they are the one's providing the drugs? What an absolute joke these guys are. Just because they pick up some garbage or participated in a mochitsuki event we are supposed to look past their human trafficking? HA!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Membership fee: 1 finger

5 ( +6 / -1 )

‘help the weak and fight the strong.’

Like Robin Hood backed up by illegal gambling, extortion, gun-running, racketeering, and murder, however drug free.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It looks like a typical right wing site.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

It's only available in Japanese?? What if foreigners want to join? Discrimination!

At least you can like it on Facebook.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I have some friends and acquaintances in the Japanese Police (Keishicho), and there is a saying among them.

"In Japan there are two kind of "Yakuza", the illegal one and the legal one"

Guess what institution is the "legal yakuza"

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Why are Yakuza's illegal? They do business. Drugs, Arms...these are all legal in other countries! If you take money from them and do not return their money, they will get mad. Same as any bank! The concept of legality is just an illusion.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

It's fairly simple, these things aren't legal in Japan so people doing these things are therefore breaking the law in Japan.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The website will be really effective in attracting disaffected social outcasts from 1997 to their cause.

I feel like I should be using dial up to access it. Or maybe we need one of those AOL CDs that used to come in magazines?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

But, I thought being a member of or affiliated with the Yaks was illegal, as is the gang itself. Shouldn't the company hosting the site be charged and the site pulled from the net? I guess there are many different levels of illegal in japan, especially for the Yaks.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Next thing you know is they will bake an sell pink, heart-shaped cakes, and donate the money for humanitarian aid.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Japanese gangsters ordinarily make no attempt to hide their identities or their gang affiliations, but membership alone is not grounds for arrest.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The same guys that are the main line to getting drugs in Japan are going against it... smart PR move.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

After checking their site one thing is sure: they need to hire a better web designer!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

"Police officials said they could not immediately confirm the website was made by the Yamaguchi-gumi, nor comment on it."

A quick search and the domain name registrant’s address is the same as their head office.

Registrant Name: utao Morio Registrant Organization: utao Morio Registrant Street1: 4-3-1 shinoharahon-machi nada-ku Registrant Street2: Registrant City: koube-shi Registrant State/Province: Hyogo Registrant Postal Code: 657-0067 Registrant Country: JP Registrant Phone: 078-871-0092

And the registrant's name is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Kuth/Y/Ymgch#Yamaguchi-gumi_Ta_line

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Should have been an april 1st day release for Aprils fools joke.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

No wonder memberships at an all-time low... they need to hire a better promoter and web designer.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@roughneck

Because the government doesn't like competition.

And also the difference is that when you owe money to the government, in the worst case you'll lose your home and everything with it and end up in jail if it's convenient. While owing money to a crime syndicate, will have you or a family member killed/raped/kidnapped and sold.

That's the only reason why I disliked both. However for some time now I downright hate and despise the government.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The song is fabulous. both tune and lyrics are first class. If there were an "Asiavision" song contest, this could be Japan's entry and win. The website itself is less good. Panders to the Japanese liking of cheesy and emotional rubbish. As for the anti-drugs thing, what do you expect them to say? "Drugs are good"?? I guess as long as a big chunk of their drug sales are to foreigners, they don't feel too bad. apart from the shabu to tired workers, which is anyway a good thing as it promotes productivity and long hours......... nothing about their mizu shobai business i see, but i guess that would also not really be seen as awful by the hito in the michi.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Buried in this article was the most interesting tidbit: a biopic about Jake Adelstein starring Daniel Radcliffe and Beat Takeshi as his domineering editor ratcheting up pressure to deliver scoop after scoop, until all hell breaks loose when Adelstein goes too deep undercover and tries dancing on a mikoshi at the Sanja Matsuri. Script still in development.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

But I suppose they're not against organized crime in general.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Jake Adelstein, a journalist and author who has written extensively on organized crime in Japan, said the Yamaguchi-gumi’s online offering was an effort to prove its humanitarian credentials.

Jake Adelstein is a loser, he just makes crap up and "over reports" to stay in the spot light, most of his book is drible, he "defense" of the yakuza are nice people is sicking.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Torafusu good spot. Radcliffe took the role because he wanted to spend some time in Japan. Bet he will have a whale of a time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

555 - sure Adelstein talks his own book, but he is a freelancer who needs to be heard and printed if he is to get paid. i agree parts of his book were pretty poor. not sure i draw the same conclusionas you that he thought the yakuza are nice people.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yakuza is part of Japanese culture and needs to be preserved!

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I am cautiously optimistic.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

What? No international button with links to other language versions? I thought these guys are up date :-)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Just shut them down, for goodness' sake. The last thing we need is for the authorities to tolerate a recruitment site and a spurious kind of patriotism and purity.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japanese penal codes are poorly suited to the investigation and prosecution of organized crime because they do not recognize conspiracy. While low-ranking yakuza are routinely imprisoned, the bosses who direct their crimes are relatively safe from prosecution.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In feudal time, yakuza existed to defend commoners from brutal authority members (lowly police men). Current yakuza differs. However, anti drug could be true. Several years ago, Obama demanded to destroy yakuzas in Japan, USA DEA could not find proof of yakuza trafficking drugs via USA and confisticated very small money of yakuza deposits in small banks and that was it. Japanese Govt did not obey Obama's demand. Thus yakuzas were legal in Japan yet. Just banks that had transaction with yakuzas got names prevailed. Oyabuns are old fashioned from pre drug era. Yakuzas are remainders of Japanese culture of old police brutality. They will die out. BTW, there was a Irezumi Daijin (tattooed Minister) who rehabilitated himself from Yakuza Oyabun to be a Politician. His grandson became Japanese Prime Minister. Koizumi-gumi. Their children can become valuable members of Japanese society.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is in the "crime" section.... Where is the crime???

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Skeeter27: This is in the "crime" section.... Where is the crime???

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Because anything yakuza group do is defined as crime in Japan, JT place in crime board. In old Hanafuda game (flower card gambling - Nintendo used to be flower card set solicitors for top yakuza oyabuns in prefectures) Yakuza, is 8, 9, 3 and lose the game. So, yakuzas called themselves asyakuza, nobody in society. Commoners called them Kyo-kaku with respect. Samurais? They were too busy in book readings and culture study and neglected to govern police works. kyo is from nin-kyo. Song? Many yakuza groups get permission from top oyabuns in areas to do traveling entertainment business. So, they do business but this oh-oyabun put his name as Kanjin-moto. Could have borrowed theaters owned by oh-oyabun.

When Fukushima happened, Yamaguchi-gumi rented many karge trucks, loaded with anything victims could use and distributed to victims. Whatever yakuza group do, Japan considers crime.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@ toshiko.

But unlike their underworld counterparts elsewhere, the yakuza are not illegal and each of the designated groups, like the Yamaguchi-gumi, have their own headquarters, with senior members dishing out business cards

It's a web site against drugs.... That is not a crime... If so show me how...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This site is just awesome......you gotta go old school nowadays to make that impact !

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Skeeter27: You are very right,

Now, don't include Las Vegas to "unlike their underworld counterparts elsewhere,'' Moe Dalitz was awarded Humanitalian of the Year by the American Cancer Society, Recieved Torch of Liberty Award by Anti Defamation League. He was one of Mafia agent businessman until he died before FBI questions.

Their business --- article is not correct. Not Trucking. Construction subcontractors who use laborers.

'

2

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Yakuza gets a bad rap. Like any organization there are both good and bad people. The Yakuza were a prime element back in the day at helping us root out communism in Japan. The Yakuza are not responsible for prostitution. Prostitution is the world's oldest profession. I don' care if Japan today cut and pasted a guardian article word for word. New media in the U.S. does that all the time and its no big deal. The Yakuza response to the 2011 tsunami and the 1995 Kobe earthquake was amazing and I am happy that Japan Today brought up these facts.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

One thing people do not understand is that yakuza and boryoku-dan are different in organization structure and members.

I don;t know how government use yakuza organization to help Govt but They are used to defend govt from Uyoku violence (ultra right wing).

When then PM Kishi invited Pres. Ike to visit Japan, Kishi was almost assassinated upon returning to Japan. Uyoku already killed Socialist Chair Asamuma, then. In order to ensure Ike safety in Japan. an excentric Yakuza Oyabun organized Welcome Ike Party in everywhere in Japan. Well, Ike did not visit Japan but that is the way yakuzas still thought it was their hidden duty toward Japan. It was 1960. Things changed but they are not boryokudan,

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The Yakuza gets a bad rap. Like any organization there are both good and bad people. The Yakuza were a prime element back in the day at helping us root out communism in Japan. The Yakuza are not responsible for prostitution. Prostitution is the world's oldest profession. I don' care if Japan today cut and pasted a guardian article word for word. New media in the U.S. does that all the time and its no big deal. The Yakuza response to the 2011 tsunami and the 1995 Kobe earthquake was amazing and I am happy that Japan Today brought up these facts.

Sorry mate, they are responsible for human trafficking, extortion, loan sharking, protection money, importing of drugs and those phone calls that scam old ladies out of their money. They don't do ANY good, anytime they do something good on the surface count 1000 times more bad things they did.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Scapegoating drugs to take attention away from all the greater evils they do. Such a surprise!

And some people actually believe the token things they do in the community are their real face. Amazing people have gotten this far being so gullible!

On the other hand, there are two kinds of yakuza. The oyabun and their punch perm henchmen, and the politicians and their beaurocrat henchmen. And they both demand protection money and if you don't pay, you get trouble.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Main business of yakuza is illegal gambling. Not poker but 48 flower cards, the game called oicho-kabu. The rules are simple and when you get three cards 8, 9, 3 then you lose. This combination is pronounced ya-ku-za. This losing set is used as nicknames of yakuza. It is daily (all night) business of yakuza. Place fees are called tera-sen as part is paid to the temple where yakuza rent every day, Their territories are called niwa-ba. Loan sharkings are business of shichi-yas, not yaluzas as it needs more mental computation skill that yakuzas do not have. About prostitution, different type of business organization operate in yukaku (prostitution houses zone). Human trafficking? Too much cost of renting ships, etc. There are smarter people who do Sokaiya. They own small amount of stocks and attend sock owners meetings/ Before agenda is read they yell hantai (oppose) hantai. The business is draining because corporations are used to and they know how to yell back beside they are often Judo expert while Sokaiyas are not athletic. They also operate Mahjong gambling, too. If you are in Tokyo, visit Inagawa-kai, Sumiyoshi-kai or Anegasaki-ikka headquarters to tell you want to go to gamble and you will be invited. Seeing is belieable than guessing. You can see what kind of business they operate.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Homemade webdesign...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Rolf SchlumpfAPR. 04, 2014 - 06:58PM JST

Homemade webdesign...

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So Yamaguchi-gumi has members who know how to design a web page? Maybe they are changing their gambling business to web-design business? A lot more profitable. Maybe they will add anti-hacker system development to be their next business? Who knows, Some day they might add anime development later.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

C'mon Anonymous, do your thing!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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