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Fukuoka government makes anime to encourage yakuza to ‘Breakaway’

The protagonist in 'Breakaway' is seen behind bars after serving as a hitman
The protagonist in ‘Breakaway’ is seen behind bars after serving as a hitman

FUKUOKA (TR) – As law enforcement continues with its efforts to coax gangsters out of a life of crime, a government agency has released a short animated film to assist with the effort.

On June 22, the Fukuoka Prefectural Center for Removal of Criminal Organizations uploaded the 40-second film “Breakaway” to YouTube. The clip tells the story of a man who feels he has “only one path in life.” It starts with him joining a gang and finding himself without freedom and money.

The film is similar in theme to a manga issued by Fukuoka police two years ago. In that comic, a down-and-out gang member faces a public that is increasingly turning against him and disinterest from his family, who are seen waiting for him at home as he drinks at hostess clubs and plays pachinko.

Exiting the underworld

It is not clear whether these types of productions are effective. It is certain, however, that Fukuoka Prefecture has had recent success in encouraging gangsters to retire.

According to the Asahi Shimbun (Dec. 27, 2015), at least 120 gangsters exited the underworld last year. The figure is about twice that of the year before. Of the 120 persons, 46 were from the Kudo-kai, the Kitakyushu City-based gang that is the largest in Kyushu.

But getting a gangster to retire is only one step; there remains the matter of assimilating him into society. Fukuoka assists in this capacity by encouraging companies to hire former mobsters through subsidy payments of seven million yen.

For this year through April, of the 48 former gangsters who have given up a life of crime through government support four have entered the workforce through the program, according to the Mainichi Shimbun (June 29).

“A person not affiliated with yakuza”

At the closing of “Breakaway,” the protagonist receives a message from a fellow gangster who is behind bars for a shooting. The man in prison is seen glumly holding a photograph of him with his family up to the penitentiary’s bars. “Once I get out, I will strive to become a person not affiliated with yakuza. You do the same, understood?” he says.

The camera then changes to another man, who is also behind a set of bars — which, as the frame pulls back, are revealed to be parts of construction scaffolding. “It may not always be always easy to work by the sweat of one’s brow, but there is real freedom,” the narrator says as the camera shows a smiling construction worker.