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Yakuza quick to mount rescue operations in Kyushu

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In the wake of the powerful earthquake and hundreds of aftershocks centered in Kumamoto Prefecture from the 14th of this month, it was not only the Japan Self Defense Force and fire brigades that dispatched emergency rescue teams to Kyushu. Shukan Jitsuwa's (5/5) reporter on the scene said the local yakuza groups responded quickly to provide assistance.

Tatsuya Kiyosaki, boss of a local gang called the Daimon-kai, which is affiliated with the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi -- one the two groups created following the schism last year that resulted in the breakup of Japan's largest underworld criminal syndicate -- immediately set up an operations center.

Through Twitter messages or word of mouth, local citizens converged on the gang's office to obtain emergency supplies.

"Boss Kiyosaki had been in Kobe on April 14, but when the area was hit by a 7-magnitude quake, he rushed back to Kumamoto," a gang source in Kyushu tells the magazine. Upon hearing such woes from victims as 'I've only had one onigiri (rice ball) since the quake,' 'I've got nothing to feed my kids' and 'There are no supplies here at all,' he undertook what small-scale action he could, by arranging for supplies to be sent to his headquarters."

Using Twitter and other social media, the locals posted images of bottled water, canned foods and tissue paper, along with various commentary about the availability of rescue items.

The aforementioned gang source also added, "Twenty-one years ago (on Jan 17, 1995), when the Hanshin Earthquake struck the Kansai area, Yoshinori Watanabe, at that time the 5th generation head of the Yamaguchi-gumi, organized volunteer assistance together with Kiyosaki. So thanks to his previous experience, Kiyosaki was quickly able to grasp what people needed most in the damaged areas."

In March 2011 as well, the Yamaguchi-gumi was active in providing assistance to the devastated areas of Tohoku.

"At that time, people in Tokyo and other places bought up provisions, leading to shortages on a nationwide scale," a former member of the Yamaguchi-gumi tells the magazine. "I recall that the gang's bosses issued an order not to buy up all the distributors' inventories. 'Leave half, so as not to inconvenience other people,' they insisted. Afterwards they also arranged to supply items that other volunteers had not considered, such as women's underwear in a wide variety of sizes. This was seen as 'the kind of assistance to people that only caring yakuza could provide.'"

After the Tohoku quake survivors were settled in evacuation centers, in response to reports of rapes and looting, the gang also organized "self-protection" groups to patrol the towns.

Photographs accompanying the article show gang members at work in Kobe and Tohoku.

The aforementioned Kyushu-based yakuza told the magazine that with the Kobe-based gang's experience in emergency logistics, it was likely that more aid will soon flow to Kumamoto.

"I don't want to sound like I'm trying to glorify the yakuza, but 'assisting the weak' is part of our code; even if our own house is damaged, we consider natural to provide assistance to respectable people."

Their good deeds aside however, Nikkan Gendai (April 23) was less inclined to portray the yakuza as a group of altruistic heroes.

"It's a tradition for the Yamaguchi-gumi to expect a return on its charitable activities," said Itsuo Tobishima, a former detective with the Hyogo prefectural police. "After they set up soup kitchens and feed the survivors of a disaster, they expect some form of repayment. After all, that is what 'ninjo' (empathy or human nature) is supposed to be about. Government offices are barred from contracting with gangs on reconstruction projects, but I would expect to see many brought in as subcontractors, or third-party contractors."

Nikkan Gendai agrees, predicting that once the repair crews set out for the damaged areas, we can expect that plenty of sweating construction workers on the job, their sleeves rolled all the way down to their wrists so as to conceal their colorful gang tattoos.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

62 Comments
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The difference between "organized" and "un-organized" crime.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Afterwards they also arranged to supply items that other volunteers had not considered, such as women’s underwear in a wide variety of sizes. This was seen as ‘the kind of assistance to people that only caring yakuza could provide.’”

Could have chosen a better example.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

The left always calls them Yakuza. Right wing would be a better word. Very kind and passionate people. They treat gaijin as equals if they love Japan and try to fit in. Unlike many government workers that see gaijin as a servant class. Paying them less than Japanese workers. Anyone who has been an ALT has experienced this.

3 ( +17 / -14 )

This was seen as ‘the kind of assistance to people that only caring yakuza could provide.’”

The irony of seeing "caring" and "yakuza" in the same sentence.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

I guess you can't blame people in need for accepting a helping hand, even if that hand is missing a finger.

22 ( +22 / -0 )

The yakuza wouldn't be needed if the government was better prepared to assist with disasters.

23 ( +24 / -1 )

pauli - agree. More a reflection of an inadequacy in the govt. supported disaster relief process.

And the money used by yakuza to sponsor such "wonderful aid" comes from illgotten criminal gains - extortion, drugs, pimping, fraud, stealing, racketeering, etc.

No glory in their actions.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

The yakuza wouldn't be needed if the government was better prepared to assist with disasters.

Darn. You beat me to it. That was going to be my comment.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

The police here are often arrested for stealing underwear. The yakuza give them out to people in need.

Ironic.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Absolutely agree with you paulinusa,

It shows a government which is not focused on providing services for the electorate. Often people are drawn to gang life because no one in government or society will help them. More focus on supporting people in need by governments is not only their job but also one of the key ways to lower gang recruitment.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

It's good to know absolutely nothing was learned from the disaster in Fukushima when exactly the same thing happened.

A government perfectly happy to throw trillions of taxpayers' money at Olympic boondoggles can't get its act together to beat the Yaks to disaster relief.

So now guess what happens when reconstruction starts in the devastated area? Who runs construction companies again?

Why, it's almost enough to make you think that the LDP and the Yaks are working together.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Sort of reminds me of the Yakuza cancelling their Halloween Party for local kids last year. My question remains the same, Why is such a thing even allowed by the local Gov/police? They are what is called a "shitei bouryokudan" or a "designated organized crime group". Trick or Treat...

7 ( +8 / -1 )

All help is appreciated in times like these, beggars can't be choosers.

Other mafias or small time criminals have looted houses or even bodies in similar circumstances. Doesn't make local Yakuza model citizens but it explains why they are more 'tolerated' in japan than others elsewhere.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

They have to get in quick - too many contracts up for grabs. Looks like nothing has changed whatsoever since Tohoku & Fukushima...

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Not unlike cattlemen tending and nurturing their herds.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Yakuza is...? ...the Govt? trying to rise the sales tax to 10% ASAP to aid Kumamoto earthquake.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

According to various surveys I've seen, in the wake of a destructive earthquake people in areas away from the disaster tend to replenish their stocks of food, water, batteries, etc. But the shelf life is usually between 2-3 years, so these must be checked, consumed and replenished, which is troublesome. Another problem is the small size of Japanese homes, which limits the space where emergency foods, etc., can be stored. Clearly, the public would benefit from some sort of strategic plan, perhaps using available space at public buildings, rail stations, hospitals, fire stations, etc. I've got no objections to the yakuza pitching in to assist, but it's a poor excuse for lack of community preparedness.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Nothing good comes from organised criminals even if it looks good on the surface. Sadly, kindness from the Yakuza is largely a ploy to win over the public in their dealings. Just say, 'no thank you'.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

“After they set up soup kitchens and feed the survivors of a disaster, they expect some form of repayment.

Shame on the govt to let such of situation happening, letting people in distress fall into gang's hand, and shame twice to not provide people with those basic supplies, they have no excuse.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I do agree with you, John Debacco. For a while, there was a Yakuza house near my place. They looked like the average person in my neighborhood. I spoke with one while taking his dog on a walk. He was a big beefy looking guy with a deep voice, but very friendly. I didn't realize he was a Yakuza member until my wife told me later and she told me to be careful. He spoke some English, just enough to understand him.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

A new definition for the term yakuza: An organisation that does the government's work for them.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I love the line about empathy and expecting a reward... empathy has nothing to do with a reward. That's just gangsters saying "we did you a favour, now how about doing us one?" Don't forget these people deal in drugs, human trafficking, prostitution, organised crime, etc... in disasters they ride in like the tattooed cavalry, but they always expect to be paid for their 'kindness'.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Well well, first of all let me say if it wasn't for the Yakuza who helped out the needy, shocked and unfed people in Sendai-Fukushima the casualties may well have been much higher. These guys love em or hate em, for what it is worth at best can be counted on to be around during a disaster to help out. So for those whiners who complain about where the funding comes from don't worry, it's being put to good use and some legitimate work will be done too. It's a lot of what I can say that the avg Japanese is not there hand's on and helping out with money either or food but rather eating and drinking a beer or saki watching on TV. Don't knock something until your actually there or part of it.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

It's not the governments job to check whether citizens are prepared or not. Most smart people have supplies available for emergencies. The Yakuza are just looking after the ill prepared and lining their own pockets. They have no altruistic motivations.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The Yakuza are just looking after the ill prepared and lining their own pockets. They have no altruistic motivations.

How are they lining their own pockets?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

StrangerlandAPR. 25, 2016 - 07:03PM JST The Yakuza are just looking after the ill prepared and lining their own pockets. They have no altruistic motivations. How are they lining their own pockets?

Search 'Yakuza' in Google and research how they operate.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I wouldn't be surprised if this article originally came with a cartoon. Too bad the reality of these dirtbags is too disgusting to be printed on these (virtual) pages.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Search 'Yakuza' in Google and research how they operate

Why would I spend time proving a claim I never made? Usually when someone says to google something it doesn't actually exist.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I recommend Jake Adelstein's "Tokyo Vice" as a fascinating insight into the Yakuza.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@bjohnson23 Don't knock the yakuza? How about the mafia? Can we "knock them"? Can we "knock" murderers? Can we "knock" pimps and rapists? Bullies? Let us know when it's safe to criticize hackwork too. This piece of nonsense would not have found it's way into journalism. But it's Ok on JT's mix of clickbait and infotainment. Jyst don't confuse it for news.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

The yakuza have the government in their back pocket. Without the Yakusa standing over union the government can keep pushing up the consumption tax and keep the minimum wage below the poverty line. Remember two years back crown casino applied and got knock bad on a casino licence for Tokyo. I assume this was because of the pachinco empire the yakuza has built in Japan. All the recuse supplies are form the money made off addicted gambler,s.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Wow they at least acted faster than the government

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@John-San I don't understand. What evidence is there that the Yaks have influence over tax policy or the minimum wage? I agree they buy some politicians and influence over their wheelhouse (aka gambling). But let's not overdo it. ...unless you have something concrete on that?

"All the recuse supplies [sic]"...

I doubt it. @misunderstood

"they at least acted faster"

In Kyushu? What makes you think that? This comic books article? I doubt their actions are more than negligible compared to government and quasi-governmental services. I really wouldn't take some schmuck's twitter seriously.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

People claim the yaks have ulterior motives. Dunno about that, but what they're doing now is good. Can we not judge them favorably for that?

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Dan Lewis, If the yaks didn't get contracts for reconstruction work, you wouldn't see them helping out. They only do it as an organisation because there's a pay off. After all, if they really cared for their communities, they wouldn't be extorting business owners and the like on a daily basis in the first place.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Hey, they have always helped out in emergencies. They are Japanese too, and participating members of the community.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

interesting how all these people there to help have to post self-promoting images of bottled water on twitter

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Organized crime groups always pulls stunts like this as PR. They know a few moments of charity to the vulnerable after a high-profile disaster will grab more attention than years and years of exploiting the vulnerable for profit. And the gullible will always fall for it, because you can see them handing out assistance after a quake, but you (usually) don't get to see them beating some guy at the end of his rope to a pulp for not paying back a loans with exploitative interest.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

So the Koreans flew in to help.....the Yakuza came in to help......Abe? Do you have some time?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

ThePBot.

The JSDF was the 1st help there and Abe sent an additional 25.000 troops after the 2nd Quake.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

StrangerlandAPR. 25, 2016 - 07:49PM JST Search 'Yakuza' in Google and research how they operate Why would I spend time proving a claim I never made? Usually when someone says to google something it doesn't actually exist.

I think if you don't know how the Yakuza works you'd find out.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Only in Japan; what a truly unique society,

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Shallots: The Biggest growth industry in Japan since the 2000 have been the Parchico Places. This Industry is control by the Yakuza. I have no evidence only that of the USA. Where organise crime and legal gambling go hand in hand. In Japan, not only do Yakuza have control of the Parchico industries but also total control of the building industry. Making them very powerful and hold great influence with Government of the day. I suspect the Yakuza also have sway of the Port of Japan. These side line industries of loans, porn, and pimping are only a front for their real money industry. Since living here I have never seen any industrially action for anything. This tell me that the Japanese are really please with the way Japan is governed and enjoy the comsumption tax raises and the disgustingly low minimum wage. Where is the Union action. There is none. Because there is no leadership because the leader of the unions are in the back pockets of the Yakuza. All this is circumstantial but there is something really wrong when you have one of Asia,s biggest criminal Organisation leading a rescue effect.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

“I don’t want to sound like I’m trying to glorify the yakuza, but ‘assisting the weak’ is part of our code;

Now thats just marvelous. Quote of the week.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@igloobuyer: Just say, 'no thank you'.

Obviously, you have never been caught in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Sitting in your comfortable house thousands of miles way and advising the victims to say “no, thank you!” when there is little/no food and hardly any consumables for them and their children. What can be better than that advice?

@hatsoff: They only do it as an organisation because there's a pay off.

Hate to say it but the above sounds so very much like the social responsibility programs of any legitimate company – at the end everything is simply publicity for the organization.

@ThePBot : So the Koreans flew in to help.....the Yakuza came in to help......Abe? Do you have some time?

Do not know how much he did while there but Abe did go to the disaster-hit area/s a couple of days ago. If you had watched the news you wouldn’t have wasted time on writing the above question.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Screw these guys, just another opportunity to make themselves look good..... bunch of no good crims.... Next day back to money laundering, blackmail, human trafficking and drugs.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

JaneMAPR. 26, 2016 - 10:52AM JST @igloobuyer: Just say, 'no thank you'.

Obviously, you have never been caught in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Sitting in your comfortable house thousands of miles way and advising the victims to say “no, thank you!” when there is little/no food and hardly any consumables for them and their children. What can be better than that advice?

I live in NZ, we get our fair-share of natural disasters thank you, but we do not have organised crime families and nefarious ways lurking in the background ready for every opportunity. And you sir, have never had dealings with organised criminals like the Yakuza. Once they can claim they 'helped you', don't expect to ever get rid of them.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@igloobuyer: I live in NZ, we get our fair-share of natural disasters thank you

Still does not mean that you personally or your family have ever experienced losing everything and having to rely on aid for food and everyday supplies.

And you sir, have never had dealings with organized criminals like the Yakuza.

No, I have not. But I doubt that you have either. The truth is that, however despicable their business is, they have always been one of the first to act in providing aid – after the Hanshin earthquake, the Tohoku earthquake and now, the one in Kumamoto. Friends who were in Kobe during and after the Hanshin earthquake always speak about the said aid with mixed feelings. Nobody though has complained of having been approached by the yaks and asked for special favors later. The world is not only black and white and even the nicest person/model citizen can do bad things. Would being nice excuse their bad deeds then?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Just like Don Corleone takes care of his people.

I'd like to ask Americans to send us Rudy Giuliani we could use him as the head of Japan's police dept.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The Yakuza are those we can trust, they are the first to every major disaster.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

John-San "not only do Yakuza have control of the Parchico industries but also total control of the building industry."

Possibly true about pachinkos but not true of the building industry. Talk like that will get you in trouble with plenty of hard working people in the building industry.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

It is not illegal to belong to the Yakuza. They have plenty of legal businesses, especially in real estate and construction, as well as having a hand in murkier areas. Still, any time there is an emergency, these folks help out, and that probably does build their influence, because Japanese understand about reciprocity, and because the government is usually much slower to respond.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Possibly true about pachinkos but not true of the building industry.

Not even true of pachinko. A lot of them are owned by N. Korean (descendants) who send money back to N. Korea. Nothing to do with the yaks.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Strangerland, yes, I have heard that. I just associated pachinko with yaks. From what I have heard, you are correct.

Building industry however, is not totally controlled by the yaks. Puh-lease! rolls eyes

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Timely assistance by ill-begotten wealth

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@John-San From what I've heard, they are THE biggest criminal organization in Asia. Still, this article is a cartoon made by scribbling from a Yak twitter feed. I don't see any reason to believe that the Yaks are important or necessary in Kyushu relief efforts. Certainly we need something better than this hack work. I doubt Yaks get much of a say in BOJ policy or tax policy, though they do stuff money into politicians pockets to maintain their empire. There is a balance here, but I'm not an expert and I could be wrong. I believe Yaks have influence over gambling, construction, porn, sex-trafficking, meth-trade, etc. But they're not magic or geniuses and I doubt their influence in monetary or tax policy.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Don't forget these people deal in drugs, human trafficking, prostitution, organised crime, etc...

Too right! (You forgot extortion, elderly fraud, child porn and money laundering)

Yaks are filth. Giving out a few rice balls and ladies undies as a PR exercise does nothing to change that.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Graham DeShazo That's right. Shame on the writer of this article for the lack of judgement, sense, and for not attempting a bit of a balanced critique. Perhaps "journalism" is too much to hope for here. However, if you're going to put up a "puff piece" about organized crime you should be prepared to be ridiculed. I think JT has gone too far this time. It's one thing to put up articles from news service feeds or infotainment related to lifestyle. It's quite another to write an unsupported uncritical glamorized portrayal of murderers, extortionists, drug-dealers and slave-traders. Really, this is too rich.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

They're scumbags. Quit giving them positive press.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I agree that the yaks are scum. But give credit where credit is due. If they are helping out, they are helping out. That doesn't excuse anything else they do. But neither does the other stuff cancel out the help they are providing at this time.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

An organisation that does the government's work for them.

I read some articles that said organised crime organisations are underworld governments for regulating and policing illegal activities such as, predominantly cartels, gambling, prostitution and in other countries, drugs. These activities while illegal retain a demand. If there were no organised crime then the the people involved would be ratting, betraying, and murdering each other. Upon this analysis I can see why Japan does not attempt to eradicate organised crime completely, in the short term, and why they do the government's work. In the face of disaster, there is never enough help.

This does not mean to say that anyone approves. Even the yakuza members say “I don’t want to sound like I’m trying to glorify the yakuza." The yakuza exist as a result of the "holism" that is claimed to exist in Japan. The decision to punish something is not taken upon the basis of whether it, in isolation, is good or bad but upon the result that punishment will have upon the whole. It would be good if we lived in a society that had no need for them, and to move in that direction. Is the way to get there by idealism, or in small real politic steps? Have the Japanese given upon getting there?

Armao, F. (2001, April). A ‘standard’ Crime: Why Mafia Win Success. Presented at the European Consortium for Political Research Joint Sessions, Grenoble. Retrieved from http://ecpr.eu/Filestore/PaperProposal/4392d2f7-68b2-4da1-84c4-e3301c046a1e.pdf Lotspeich, R. (2000). The Nature of Organized Crime: An Economic Perspective. Low Intensity Conflict and Law Enforcement, 9(3), 35–66. Milhaupt, C. J., & West, M. D. (2000). The Dark Side of Private Ordering: An Institutional and Empirical Analysis of Organized Crime. The University of Chicago Law Review, 41–98. Retrieved from http://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5018&context=uclrev#

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@Strangerland

"But give credit where credit is due."

Does this article on an article on a twitter feed suffice for you? Don't you think this is an embarrassingly bad...I don't even want to call it an article. It's an assemblage of sentences. You can't call it information. We should all expect a little bit more.

...in other countries, drugs.

Um, in Japan too. Plenty. Is that all? What about sex-trafficking? I notice your list is a bit bland.

...why they do the government's work.

perhaps in some cases in the past. But, I'm sorry, this article is not enough for me. There is no reason to trust the Yak's twitter feed or "a gang source." The writer's childishness doesn't win confidence either. I'm not surprised if the offer something. They have to. But doing the government's work? I call bunk on that.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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