The number of gangsters fell to 46,900 (20,100 regular members and 26,800 quasi-members) in 2015, a decline of 12 percent over the year before. The figure is the lowest since statistics began being kept in 1958 and roughly 25 percent of its peak recorded in 1963.
Police credited anti-gang legislation that was enacted nationwide in October of 2010 with the decline in membership. The legislation restricts regular citizens from facilitating the money-making activities of crime groups.
Though total membership in the Kobe-based Yamaguchi-gumi tumbled by approximately 40 percent (from 23,400 to 14,100), it remains Japan’s largest gang. The major reason for the decrease was the dissension of 13 affiliate gangs that went on to form the rival Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi. The loss of allies continued thereafter. Since the split, the total number of top bosses in the Yamaguchi-gumi has fallen from more than 73 to 56.
Meanwhile, the number of affiliate gangs tied to the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi has risen from the initial 13 to 22. With a membership of approximately 6,100, the gang ranks third in Japan, trailing only the Yamaguchi-gumi and the Tokyo-based Sumiyoshi-kai.
Fears of conflicts between the two gangs has caused law enforcement to be on constant alert. Between September of last year and February 24, police raided 158 locations in 27 administrative districts and made 210 arrests, according to Nippon News Network (Feb. 25).