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NPA: Number of yakuza members drops sharply in 2012

Shinobu Tsukasa, the boss of the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan's largest gang
Shinobu Tsukasa, the boss of the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest gang
TOKYO (TR) – The National Police Agency (NPA) announced on Thursday that the total number of organized crime members suffered a dramatic decline in the past year, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Mar. 7).

According to figures released by the police, Japan had 63,200 gang members, a decline of 7,100 from the year before, marking the first time since 1958 that the total fell below 70,000.

In 1992, the year that the Anti-Organized Crime Law came into effect, the total number of gang members was over 90,000. Between 2004 and 2003, the number increased by 1,200 to 87,000. In each of the eight subsequent years, however, the figure has steadily dropped.

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.

An official with the NPA warns that the results could be somewhat misleading. “Since there are restrictions on the activities of those who have joined gangs, there is a possibility that some supposed non-members are actually doing business under the radar,” the official said.

In 2012, the number of arrests of regular members and associate members dropped by 2,130 to 24,139, the majority of which were due to violations of the Stimulants Control Law (6,285 cases), theft (2,794), and blackmail (1,334).