Pictures don't lie. And especially in 2020, video images of police brutality -- captured on security cameras and smartphones -- have provoked outrage in the streets. And not only in the United States.
Weekly magazine Asahi Geino (June 25) reports on a video that surfaced of a violent case of "yakuza brutality" that occurred the first weekend in June in Kabukicho, Shinjuku's sleazy adult entertainment zone. It has received little coverage in the mainstream media.
This occurred at the time when most late-night businesses in Kabukicho had yet to reopen from the shutdown, leaving the streets nearly deserted.
As described by the reporter, the video showed a group of four to five men converging on one individual with shoves and rough shouts of Oi, kora! (Hey you!). The shout of "Punishment!" was followed by a hard punch to the left side of the victim's head. He was then struck from the other direction and covered his face to avoid more blows.
An "underground" writer in the district explained what was happening.
"The night of Friday, June 5 to early Saturday morning, a large group of yakuza from a certain gang descended on Kabukicho and began attacking 'scouts,'" he said.
Scouts is used to describe males whose work involves approaching young women on the street, and, using offers of lucrative remuneration as bait, attempt to recruit the women into hostess clubs and sex businesses.
"There seem to have been around 100 yakuza, who were not only patrolling Kabukicho but areas around JR Shinjuku station and Nishi-Shinjuku as well," the writer continues. "They ganged up on scouts and roughed them up. There are other videos beside that one."
"The toughs would surround guys who appeared to be scouts and demanded to know if they worked for 'N' -- which is the biggest outfit engaging in the scouting trade," said the operator of a restaurant in the district. "Some began clobbering the scouts without waiting for their answer. N began expanding from about 10 years ago and currently employs between 700 to 800 scouts, which makes them by far the biggest. It's said to be run by the 'K brothers,' a couple of nasty twin brothers who are usually in trouble over one thing or another."
In addition to persistently hassling young women who disregard them, the N-scouts have regular run-ins with scouts in rival groups. They are also reputed to recruit underage teens to work at sex shops.
When an outfit like N encounters problems, they are typically resolved by toughs referred to as ketsumochi (enforcers or trouble-shooters), some of who maintain secret ties with the yakuza. They are believed to be responsible for the latest attacks on the N-scouts.
The reason is interesting.
"Due to the self-imposed quarantine due to the corona virus, N began hiring scouts away from rival outfits," says the aforementioned writer. "The scout companies obtain income from a percentage of girls' earnings at the clubs. During the shutdown the girls, who are regarded as self-owned enterprises, were eligible for a stipend from the government, and the scout companies were also taking a cut."
"The other scout companies were getting hit hard, and a ketsumochi from one outfit decided they'd had enough."
Members of N and two other groups were in the midst of negotiations when N went on the attack, initiating a major brawl, and the two other groups summoned their yakuza allies.
"Due to the anti-gang ordinance, restaurants in Kabukicho have stopped paying protection to gangs," said the aforementioned restaurant operator. "On the other hand, the restrictions due to the pandemic have seen yakuza making a comeback and trying to extort the restaurants. I can't tell you how much protection they pay, but some have been paying out of fear, and others have no choice to fork out because they're operating illegally.
"The gangs are persistent and no matter how much the protection payments hurt, in most cases they won't go to the police."
As of June 12, the streets of Kabukicho were said to be completely free of the scouts.
"Scouts from other groups are too scared to go there," a source told the magazine, adding that the K brothers have gone into hiding, with their enemies in hot pursuit.
Sure, measures against the pandemic are important, the magazine concludes, but if Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike is serious about getting reelected, she should step in and deal with this problem as well.© Japan Today