The National Police Agency in Japan reported that the number of members in Japanese organized crime groups totaled 58,600 in 2013. The number of Yakuza members in 2013 was lower than the 63,200 reported in 2012.
This is the first time on record that the number of Yakuza members across the country was below 60,000.
Security experts in Japan state that there are various reasons for the decline in membership. Police have recently introduced tougher enforcement against the Yakuza, as well as a poor public image and a slowing Japanese economy has made the life of a gangster much more difficult in the country.
(More statistics about organized crime.)
The largest Yakuza group in Japan is still the Yamaguchi-gumi. The group had a total of 25,700 members in 2013, a decline of 2,000 members from the year before. The second largest gang, the Sumiyoski-kai, had 9,500 gangsters on its roll, a decline of 1,100 from the previous year.
Source: AFP, “Membership of Japan’s yakuza crime gangs falls to all-time low,” Guardian, March 6, 2014.
In 2013, security services at Narita International Airport in Japan seized 270 kilograms of illegal drugs. The amount of drugs seized was the highest amount recorded since the airport opened in 1978.
The illegal drugs were seized in 82 cases of drug smuggling. In 12 of the cases, the drugs were being smuggled into Japan from flights originating from India. Following India, the next country of origin was China, where 9 people were arrested with narcotics, followed by Hong Kong with 5 people being arrested.
The amount of illegal drugs seized at Narita Airport in 2013 had a street value of $184 Million (18.8 Billion Japanese Yen).
(How much does cocaine cost?)
Source: Julian Ryall, “Japanese drug smugglers use online shoppers as mules,” South China Morning Post, March 1, 2014.
The Polaris Project, an non-governmental organization, estimates that there are up to 54,000 human trafficking victims that are bought and sold in Japan each year.
In an article with the Bangkok Post, the report highlighted cases where women from the Philippines, Thailand and South Korea were trafficked to Japan in order to work in the prostitution industry.
In addition to women from foreign countries, girls and women from Japan are trafficked within the country. The Polaris Project states that domestic violence victims, single mothers and other women facing financial struggles are targeted. It was previously reported that minors were having sex with men for $100.
(More prices of human trafficking victims.)
Source: “Activists demand action against human trafficking in Japan,” Bangkok Post, December 25, 2013.
Police in Japan arrested over 24,000 yakuza members across the country in 2012. Included in the arrests were 23 bosses of the Yamaguchi-gumi, the largest organized crime syndicate in Japan. The crimes that the members were arrested for included extortion, illegal drugs, illegal gambling, theft and fraudulent activities.
In addition to arrests, yakuza groups across Japan have seen its membership decline in recent years. According to intelligence by the National Police Agency, the recent high in membership occurred in 2004, where there were 87,000 yakuza members. Membership was declining roughly 3 percent each year until 2011, when the number of yakuza dropped 11 percent. It dropped another 10 percent in 2012 to leave a total of 63,200 members at the start of 2013.
Security officials in Japan and the United States attribute these declines to increase actions taken by financial regulators in both countries. In 2011, Japan passed a law making it illegal to conduct business with yakuza members. The United States Treasury Department also started to freeze the assets of the three largest yakuza gangs in the country. A freedom of information request by Bloomberg News found that two American Express cards issued to yakuza bosses were frozen.
Intelligence from security agencies state that the yakuza earns its revenue from various black market crimes, ranging from drug trafficking, human trafficking, prostitution, extortion and money laundering. Before the financial crackdown, the gangs were diversifying their income streams to include construction, waste management, and financial services.
Source: Terje Langeland and Takahiko Hyuga, “Yakuza Bosses Whacked by Regulators Freezing AmEx Cards.” Bloomberg, October 22, 2013.
In 2012, the National Police Agency in Japan investigated nearly 6,800 reports of underage prostitution in the country.
Security officials state that the number of transactions conducted online has increased over the past three years.
Source: “NPA to launch nationwide protection scheme for underage girls offering sex for cash online,” Japan Today, October 12, 2013.
Organized crime groups in Japan are running illegal gambling dens where computers display video of casinos in the Philippines and Costa Rica. The players in Japan watch the monitor and place their bets accordingly. The casinos in the foreign country are legal, while the gambling on the feed in Japan is not.
The virtual casino in Japan pays the actual casino 50 cents to receive a point, which is then sold to the gambler in Japan for $1. These points are used as casino chips when playing. 80 percent of the Japanese gamblers play baccarat.
According to law enforcement, these virtual casinos in Japan earn about $50,500 (5 Million Japanese Yen) each month.
Source: “Internet tele-casinos may be newest bet for yakuza groups,” Asahi Shimbum, September 16, 2013.
A 14 year old Japanese girl told anti human trafficking organization Polaris Project Japan that men were paying roughly $100 (10,000 Japanese Yen) to have sex with her in hotels in Japan.
The men, who ranged from college age men to “a man who was around the same age as her own grandfather”, responded to an online ad that read:
“”A second-year junior high school student is looking for somebody to play with.”
The anti human trafficking organization Polaris Project Japan has reported that it has received around 3,000 reports of grievances between 2004 and 2013.
(More prices and costs of human traffickers.)
Source: Nasuka Yamamoto, “Polaris Project Japan fights human trafficking,” Ashani Shimbun, August 29, 2013.
The author of a book about the Yakuza in Indonesia estimates that about $197 Million (2 Trillion Indonesian Rupiah) was laundered by Japanese organized crime groups out of Indonesia over the course of several year back from 2013.
Richard Susilo reports that the Yakuza has been active in Indonesia since the 1970s.
Source: Tunggui Wirajuda, “Yakuza’s Place in Indonesia A Concern, Author Says,” Jakarta Globe, July 19, 2013.
Immigration officials in Japan has identified at least 33 cases of foreigners holding counterfeit resident cards between July 2012 through May 2013.
Japan introduced a new foreign resident card system on July 9, 2012, and has issued around 1.1 million cards thus far.
The holders of the counterfeit cards were reported to have overstayed their visas.
Source: “Foreigners working longer hours via counterfeit resident cards: immigration,” Japan Times, July 13, 2013.
The National Police Agency in Japan stated that 3,300 members of the Yamaguchi-gumi group quit organized crime activities in 2012.
The Yamaguchi-gumi is the largest Yakuza organization in Japan with 27,700 members. The group accounts for over 40 percent of the 63,200 Yakuza members in Japan as of 2012.
Source: AFP, “Japan mob publishes magazine for gangsters: reports,” Google News, July 10, 2013.