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NPA: Number of yakuza members drops sharply in 2011

Video game 'Yakuza'
Image from video game ‘Yakuza’
TOKYO (TR) – The National Police Agency (NPA) announced on Thursday that the total number of members and associate members within organized crime groups suffered a dramatic decline, reports the Nikkei Shimbun (Mar. 15).

According to figures released by the police, Japan had 70,300 gang members, a decline of 8,300 from the year before. Regular members totaled 32,700 in 2011 (compared with 36,000 in 2010), while affiliates lost 5,000 members and now stand at 37,600.

In 1992, the year that the Anti-Organized Crime Law came into effect, the total number of gang members was over 90,000.

The NPA credits the ongoing legislative push to eradicate criminal organizations as the reason for the decline. A clampdown on cash flows and gang-group activities were mentioned as specific measures that led to the drop.

The Yamaguchi-gumi, the largest criminal organization, has 15,200 regular members (or 46.5 percent of the national total), representing a loss of 2,100 from they year before. At the end of 2010, the organization had 1,500 affiliate groups, but over the next year 142 affiliate groups had ceased operations.

A senior official within the Osaka prefectural police warns that some of the gangsters that have dropped out are entering seemingly legitimate business operations in an effort to funnel capital back to gang groups.

“While the activities that exhibit the power and influence of gang groups are in decline, it is still necessary to continue monitoring what is happening behind the scenes carefully,” said a representative from the NPA.

In 2011, the number of arrests of regular members and associate members increased 2.3 percent to 26,272, the majority of which were due to violations of the stimulant control law (6,511 cases), theft (3,538), assault (3,039), and fraud (2,076).