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NPA: Yakuza membership down for 16th straight year

TOKYO (TR) – Membership in Japanese criminal syndicates dropped for the 16th straight year in 2020, the National Police Agency said last week.

On April 8, the NPA said membership in such syndicates totaled 25,900 at the end of last year, a figure that is down by 2,300 over the year before.

In breaking down the total, there were 13,300 full-time members, a decrease of 1,100 over the year before. The number of associate members dropped by 1,100 to 12,700.

By gang, the Yamaguchi-gumi remained the largest with 8,200 members after losing 700 over the year before. Ranking second and third were the Sumiyoshi-kai (4,200) the Inagawa-kai (3,300).

The NPA has said in the past that the steady decline in membership is due to the enactment of anti-gang legislation and crackdowns on gangs’ money-making activities.

Shinobu Tsukasa of the Yamaguchi-gumi
Shinobu Tsukasa of the Yamaguchi-gumi (Twitter)

“State of conflict”

The NPA also said that there were nine violent incidents between the Yamaguchi-gumi and its chief rival, the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi.

In January of last year, the public safety commissions of six prefectures, including Aichi and Hyogo, designated the pair as being “in a state of conflict.” In 10 prefectures, the actives of the gangs are heavily restricted.

“We will prevent the continuation of the incidents to ensure the safety of citizens,” an NPA official said.

Coronavirus hardships

Tokyo Metropolitan Police have revealed that bars and restaurants in the capital are now more reluctant to pay what is known as mikajimeryo (or “protection money”) due to hardships brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

An investigative source tells the Sankei Shimbun (April 8) that at least 20 such establishments have stopped payouts to gangs altogether. They cited “a drop in sales due to pandemic” as the reason for not paying the gangsters.

“We would like [the establishments] to consult with us about taking this opportunity to sever ties with gangsters,” a representative of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police said.