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Yakuza tone down events, step up relief efforts in quake-stricken areas

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Did the yakuza syndicates based in Tohoku suffer serious damage from the March 11 quake and tsunami? According to Shukan Taishu (April 4), it's too soon to say.

"Because of the devastation, it's been impossible to make contact with our people in Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures," a well informed source tells the magazine. "We haven't been able to make contact by telephone, and in some cases, damage to the roads made it impossible to get through to the towns."

In other parts of the country, the gangs have reportedly postponed or canceled a number of planned events and ceremonies. One was a funeral for Kosaku Akiba, head of the Kunii Ikka, a major force in Ibaraki Prefecture with close ties to the Asakusa-based Matsuba-kai in Tokyo.

Akiba passed away on Jan 25 and his funeral, to have been attended by top gang bosses, was scheduled to be held in Katori City, Ibaraki, on March 13. It was postponed.

The nation's third largest gang, the Inagawa-kai, was planning to hold a succession ceremony on March 14, but a source connected to the gang told the magazine, "We have affiliates in the damaged areas, so I suppose a celebratory ritual wouldn't be appropriate right now."

In Kobe, meanwhile, the nation's largest syndicate, the Yamaguchigumi, had been planning a confab of gang sub-heads from nine affiliates, including groups from Tokyo, Chiba, Kyoto, Osaka, Okayama and Fukuoka, called the "Wakakashira-kai," but this, too, was postponed. "Service had been restored on the shinkansen, and it would have been physically possible to hold it, but it was decided at the last minute to call it off," a veteran gang watcher tells the magazine.

The Yamaguchigumi, of course, gained a modicum of fame in the immediate aftermath of the January 1995 Hanshin earthquake when it unhesitatingly supplied relief to quake victims. "Before its Kobe headquarters was built, it had arranged for boring to be undertaken, which succeeded in tapping an underground water source," says the aforementioned gang watcher. "They took the initiative in making this water available to people in the neighborhood, along with food supplies."

The heads of gang affiliates arranged for provision of blankets, portable cooking stoves, kerosene, articles of clothing, milk, pocket warmers, sanitary pads and so on, to the victims. They also dispatched rank-and-file members to operate street kitchens.

"Many official organizations around the country assembled relief materials, but there were lots of cases where delivery was delayed due to red tape," a local journalist is quoted as saying.

Gang members were also said to have patrolled the damaged areas to discourage looting.

Shinobu Tsukasa, who later became boss of the Yamaguchigumi, was said to have energetically taken part in those efforts. A photo on page 224 shows him bowing as he accepted a floral bouquet from a grateful female Kobe resident.

With the disaster in Tohoku, Shukan Taishu reports that once again the three major gangs and their affiliates have swung into action.

"We couldn't just stand still after hearing reports there weren't enough food or drinking water getting to the devastated areas," said a gang boss who asked not to be mentioned by name. "If we were to buy up all the supplies from this area, we might cause hardships for people in local neighborhoods, so we procured them from farther away. We've gathered them from various places so as not to exhaust supplies."

That aside, Shukan Taishu points out that mass media coverage of such charitable activities by yakuza has not been entirely favorable; Yamaguchigumi was accused by some of engaging in self promotion and looking out purely for its own interests.

"I suppose after things have calmed down, any mention in the news this time will be similar," says the aforementioned boss. "In the present confusion, the police aren't saying anything either; but after things start returning to normal and a semblance of order is restored, they'll exhort people, saying, 'Don't accept anything from yakuza.'

"But we're not concerned with such remarks. What's important is that the government couldn't get the job done. So if we make ourselves useful, then we've done the right thing. That's what our yakuza code of chivalry is all about."

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

43 Comments
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Arrest them!

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That’s what our yakuza code of chivalry is all about.

Disgusting. When you know their main activity is harassing poor people for protection money and smuggling prostitutes from poor countries (often kidnapped in their villages), you cannot even for a minute believe that these people can have any positive role in the society. These people are the cancer of Japan. Japan doesn't them. Japan needs to eradicate them.

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Screw the yaks, they'll ask for "service" money later and their help... they are no good crims ... why are you wasting your time writing about them.

If a Yak offers you anything, don't take it, they consider you owing them.

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If I didn't have any water or food I'd be happy to get some, even from the yakuza.

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gogogo: It's the same everywhere with organized crime. If you ask for or accept help they will always think you owe them something back.

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Goals0: totally agree...I would be happy to repay the kindess if I was able to endure because of their help.

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Seriously, how are we supposed to take this? They don't mind ruining people's lives and breaking the law on any normal day, but now they want to act like vigilantes of justice? People need help, and you can't fault them for helping... but what is it going to cost in the long run? Are they going to be holding this over people's heads later? I want to hope not, but...

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This is not news at all, but is aimed to glorify these yakuzas. They have ruined lives and now they want to show off as good guys? They are scum of the earth and we should get rid of them.

Besides how is it that JT got this information so much?

Moderator: It comes from Shukan Taishu magazine.

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Besides how is it that JT got this information so much?

4icejp@I start to wonder if you even read the article, since the source of the information (Shukan Taishu magazine) is mentioned 3 times in the text.

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“We couldn’t just stand still after hearing reports there weren’t enough food or drinking water getting to the devastated areas,” said a gang boss who asked not to be mentioned by name. “If we were to buy up all the supplies from this area, we might cause hardships for people in local neighborhoods, so we procured them from farther away. We’ve gathered them from various places so as not to exhaust supplies.”

...........................................

the YAKUZA has better planners than the Government !!

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I heard the yakuza were out there helping when the Kobe earthquake hit as well. At least they're good for something.

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Like most official organisations, including governmental ones, the yakuza is primarily an organisation out to make profit. Unlike most governmental organisations, however, yakuza gangs are usually grass-roots based, rather than living in ivory towers.

It is natural for people who live on the ground to help others on the ground when a disaster strikes. This is particularly true of Japanese culture, where respect and courtesy are pillars of societal order.

It may well be true that once the disaster is over they will return to being thugs and gangsters, but so will governments and banks return to their money-making methods after the disaster is over. The fact remains that in a disaster, people need to band together and help each other, while the government does their best to provide relief and support. The Yakuza may be a part of Japanese society that plagues honest trade and ruin lives, but they remain one of the most organised grass-roots organisations that have the ability to make a real difference providing relief in such disasters - and they did provide this relief, rather than sitting back and doing nothing.

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If the Yakuza died in the flooding...I won't lose sleep over it.

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I heard the yakuza were out there helping when the Kobe earthquake hit as well. At least they're good for something.

Yeah, to the profit tune of ¥5 billion! They didn't do anything from the heart. As I recall, they literally forced many people to take loans from them, businesses included, in order to help restructure the city. The government turned a blind eye, as usual.

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The Yakuza are a sort of "shadow government" in Japan.

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How many of the mainstream newspaper's here in Japan actually picked up this article and decided to print it in their newspaper's?

Asahi? Mainichi? Yomiuri? Keizai?

I would think that there is more than enough news out there that JT doesnt need to go scouring the dregs of the shukan-shi looking for articles praising recognized criminals.

Shame on JT for helping to glorify crime and criminals. No matter what good they have been perceived to have done it ALWAYS comes with a price attached.

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Every helping hand is needed in a Crisis like this..... Donating Food stuffs and such is a very humane thing to do...... I'm on the outside looking in and this nuclear crisis is continually devastating.....So it's all good right now.....

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Now, wait a minute folks, no one has produced any evidence of the yakuza wanting to be paid back for their help in the Kobe earthquake. Until someone does the comments about wanting "service money" later seem unfounded.

Just like if I were to cynically say that "Gang members were also said to have patrolled the damaged areas to discourage looting." may mean they were looking for opportunities to loot but saying they were guarding against OTHERS loooting. I have no evidence for that, so cannot suggest it.

Seriously though, they are rich Japanese. They can help. Why wouldn't they? It would be a story if they didn't help.

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Aw, they're just looking to massage their egos and conscience. Were it to come down to really compromising themselves, they'd find a way to weasel their way out.

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This is typical behaviour of organised criminals since at least tehe arliest 20th century. You will find similar action from the mafia in the US and London gangs of the 50-70's. The reason they do this is because they are showing that the area is theirs and they are capable of "looking after" at all times. They always claim that they only harm their own, are good family men and stop petty crime on the streets etc.If they were not visble on the streets it is seen as being weak and rival groups could muscle in and take advantage. They need the public on their side to some extent and showing they "care" and assisting in disasters is an excellent PR service for them.

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There's something about the fact that this article exists that disgusts me. Here's what they SHOULD do: ask all the local Yaks mentioned in this article and otherwise to gather for a session on how they can 'help society' in the stricken areas, and when they come, take them in and lock them up... for a long time. Then forego the week-in-advance courtesy calls and go arrest the leaders.

Sadly, the way it WILL go: the government will turn a blind eye, but apathetically while it accepts money from the yaks in exchange for the police turning an even blinder eye on certain activities of theirs.

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whatever position they have, Yakuza or not the important is to help, to stretch hands, its innate in human to have a feelings of sympathy or empathy if someone is in crisis, dont look them different at this time of calamity they are human too, just appreciate the goodwill of thier action and forget those bad blah... blah... blah... about them for the meantime...

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The Yakuza are often used in Japan when official routes do not work. We may not like most of what they do, but they do whereas officials often just plan, talk or enforce a tangle of red tape that prevents action.

In a situation like this help needs to be accepted from anyone who can do something useful without prejudice. That means accept foreign food, foreign medication, foreign medical help and help from the Yakuza.

We cannot rely on this countries government stifled by its bureaucracy.

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"Shame on JT for helping to glorify crime and criminals."

I second that!

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@gaijintraveller

So you wouldn't mind to rely on people whose main business is to kidnap young girls in poor countries to import them in Japan as sex slaves? People who extort money to many small businesses, under death threat? etc... Don't be mistaken: if they help you, you will have to pay later one way or another (protection money, etc...).

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It never ceases to amaze me how seemingly intelligent people will derided JT for printing this story and bad mouth the Yakuza without knowing one iota of the organization itself or the people involved. They only repeat what they have read second hand in a newspaper or heard on tv. Yet, these same "seemingly intelligent" people say nothing of the criminals in the governments around the word and the criminals in big corporations who steal from them and poison them on a daily basis with absolutely no regard to human life or the planet all in the name of profits. This goes to show the ignorance of the average sheeple and how easily they are controlled and led by the nose. Both are "criminals". It's just how you define criminal.

I, for one, applaud the Yakuza. At least they are doing something. As someone who has lived in Japan for many years I still have close ties with my Yakuza friends and I would trust them and seek their help in time if need before I would call a cop or ask for help from my government officials as they get results without the red tape. So, unless you can back up your claims with facts, you best not show your ignorance on matters you know nothing about save for what you have read or think you know.

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"knowing one iota of the organization itself or the people involved."

I have known people involved intimately. And while I can like and trust individuals, I can distain the "industry". Who are you to judge who can have an opinion?

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Pachipro -- Except we do say things about the criminals in the governments and big corporations. We acknowledge their existence. Who's making the big claims here? And anyway, this article isn't about any of that. I'm glad you know some upstanding Yakuza members, but I'm sorry, I don't and will never approve of what they stand for, and what they have done and STILL do.

And anyway, I sort of said I was glad they are doing some good, maybe I wasn't clear enough. But I'm not convinced the organization itself did it just out of the goodness of their hearts. On an individual level, totally possible. But the yakuza as a whole? Sorry if we're not as quick to applaud the shady industry that wouldn't be so shady if they were all just a bunch of nice guys.

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“Before its Kobe headquarters was built, it had arranged for boring to be undertaken, which succeeded in tapping an underground water source,” says the aforementioned gang watcher. “They took the initiative in making this water available to people in the neighborhood, along with food supplies.”

Everything comes with a price, whether the Yakuza collect on it or not. If the person taking much needed water was recognized as a business owner, I'm sure it would be carefully recorded for possible future exploitation. They're only doing their jobs diligently.

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Piglet, even bad people can do some good. Let them do some good if they want to.

At least they understand the Japanese system of red tape and cut straight through it. Honest aid agencies have been turned away because of red tape. Other aid has been rejected because of red tape. I heard one foreign company tried to donate a container of food, but that too was rejected.

If you had no roof over your head and nothing to eat, I am sure you would be willing to accept food from anyone.

The Yakuza may be dishonest and evil in many ways, but are they that much worse than some of the crooks that have proliferated in Wall Street in recent years? Are they worse than people who manufacture and profit from the sale of weapons?

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" Some day, and that day may never come... I may call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, accept this, as a gift."

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" Some day, and that day may never come... I may call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, accept this, as a gift."

Good Marlon Brando impersonation. I remember that scene well from Godfather I. But what has this got to do with Japan?

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"Shame on JT for helping to glorify crime and criminals." I second that!

I wholeheartedly agree!

Fine, let's say for arguments sake, they help people and do the right thing in a serious emergency crisis, because when it comes down to it, we all need to be as one and help one another, having said that, there is no way in any way shape or form should we be glorifying or idolizing these thugs, murderers and criminals, John Gotti and Pablo Escobar were saints in their community, feared by some, beloved by others and yet, the destruction and the lives they took and the terror they wrought doesn't mean they deserve a Noble Peace prize. Accept their help if there really is no other way and after that, let them burrow back the gutter depths where these cockroaches belong.

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whinge whinge whinge..just let them be.. if they want to help.. in the name of their organisation.. then so be it..

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@Pachipro... I completely and 100% agree with what you are saying. I too have friends that are Yak, and to read the ignorant and sheep-like responses from people who have more than likely never met a Yak infuriates me. At the end of the day people are people, and in this case this is people HELPING people. End of story.

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Next time you get your little white hot cloth before your meal to clean your hands say thank you Mr. Yak... They run this for a front legit business on top of the smut and gambling racket. Even the NOVA guy was kidnapped in Osaka (hotel) for not paying up to gangster shareholders and we all in one way or another give them money everyday...to their mates in the DIET building with tax money. Just ignore them and sadly we all will be kicking up ¥ for the next five years on the rebuilding. The Kobe Yamaguchi headquarters actually has a huge sign on the building that says Yamaguchigumi- just another local respected business and cops go in for their cut once a month (ok maybe that is going overboard). Gangsta boogie Gangsta boogie...I sing that and smile and they smile back with yellow teeth and sometimes I high five them and call them loser in English...they love it.

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I have read comments by Japanese posters on 2channel that the same yakuza then made people repay back their 'kindness' by working in their sex shops or selling off stocks and stuff.My good Japanese mates have told me plenty of stories of post quake Kobe and they did say that the Yakuza were much more effective than the police in handing out onigiri and keeping people in line, but with the yakuza there is always another side to the story that we foreigners rarely get to see.Fortunately for us.

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Oh, the laissez-faire 'Yak' usage? Never met a 'Yak' and therefore uninitiated to the deeper understanding of the 'Yak' mind are we? I'll remind myself of that the next time a 'Yak' does someone a good turn, like rip off a pensioner in a phone scam, schoolgirl sex ring or some-such. I'll try to remember that their at heart, 'Yaks' are at heart, good guys, because the above poster on the basis of personal expereince can vouch for it...

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Which has been more crooked in Japanese history? The government caused nuclear devastation by attacking Pearl Harbor. Forced thousands of young men to kill them selves for the glory of a flag. Brutally occupied several areas of Asia including Korea from 1905-1945. You people who sit around in your chairs and comment righteously about who is a good person and who is bad, well, you probably do not know much about Japan/Asian politics and government. Kudos to a group that is trying to do something, despite what you may think of their daily "business".

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The gender issue is everywhere-in every coorporation, and behind closed doors, who really knows what goes on for each individual, no matter their affiliation. From teachers to gangsters there are all types everywhere. So I would offer some advice; if the yakuza think they are as strong as they make out, then they would get their gender issues straight. No I dont mean dominating what sex you prefer, but how you define roles;not just define either, you are or you arent; a wife for example(noting that that definition by your own blood would define it differently to your so called tradition). Bluntly, quit sending your little puripuri-chans around telling me to work, or trying to find my strength to exploit. It really wont work when your regular pachinko goer tells me that I need to work. Or, your old granma wants to check up on what time Ive woken up, or if my washing is done, or tell me that I dont need to teach English, I can cook.; when I just want to play the role of wife and mother, and the only person they have to manipulate me with is your speeding wife who runs up the bills only, or the wife who has to pay the boys to scratch her back; Ive got it right, I will win, I was born into this kind of family, I know how to play. What all the smart arses dont realize is some people dont have choices, and when the crunch comes, do you choose yes or no is the only choice. Yakuza get your choices right, or the bitterness wont end. Helping at these times is normal, I thought the yakuza might have some more balls than that and be able to deal with the gender issue, which is where people get confused....

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After reading several of these long winded posts I would suggest that these "Gangsters" are first and foremost- Japanese For Japanese!Let them do their thing, and Do the Right Thing!

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Why don' the J-flops just round up all these thugs and put them away?

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Bwah! is that anything like the add-do the right thing, and Put the Trash in the Can?! reading that short snipe this jumped to mind and gave me a good chuckle.

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