According to figures released by the police, Japan had 53,500 registered gangsters in 2014, a decline of 5,100 from the year before.
In 1992, the year that the Anti-Organized Crime Law came into effect, the total number of gang members was over 90,000. Between 2003 and 2004, the number increased by 1,200 to 87,000. In each subsequent year, however, the figure has steadily dropped.
The NPA credits an ongoing drive to cut off money-making activities of the criminal organizations as the reason for the fall in membership.
However, law enforcement acknowledges that it can often be that a gang member’s retirement from a life of crime may only be superficial.
“In order to escape a crackdown while making money, there have been more than a few cases of gangsters disguising themselves as former members,” says an official from the Osaka Prefectural Police.
Last month, police in Kyoto deemed retired Yusei-kai gangsters to current members given their connection to the gang had not changed. The suspects were charged with concealing their gang affiliations in the operation of stalls at festivals last year.