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Tokyo publisher drops yakuza magazine after 3 decades

The April issue of Gekkan Jitsuwa Document
The April issue of Gekkan Jitsuwa Document

TOKYO (TR) – Gangsters, tattoos, sex — a winning formula for more than three decades is coming to an end for one Tokyo-based publication.

Myway Publishing is ceasing publication of Gekkan Jitsuwa Document, a monthly tabloid that covers (and caters to) Japan’s organized crime members. The last issue (May) will hit newsstands on March 29.

A writer with the magazine tells Cyzo (Mar. 16) that the move may have more to do with the magazine’s content than financial trouble.

“The editor-in-chief does not want to get into specifics about it,” says the writer. “There are a lot of convenience stores struggling in the sale of magazines, but [this magazine] is in the black, so [the ceasing of publication] is not due to a bankruptcy or restructuring. It very well could be due to recent pressure to push out gang groups.”

Nationwide legislation enacted six years ago restricts the fostering of the activities of organized crime groups by the public. Given its scope, the magazine’s coverage could indeed be seen as wading into a legal gray zone.

Since its launch in 1984, Document has been one of the go-to journals for the latest on organized crime news and industries commonly dealt with by gangsters, such as adult video (AV) and commercial sex.

The April issue is no exception. The magazine features the latest on the ongoing dispute between the Yamaguchi-gumi and its rival, the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi. In addition to organization charts of both gangs and photographs showing bosses making visits to cemeteries in Kobe in January to pay respects to past Godfathers, the issue includes an in-depth report on the latest in the complicated power struggle over the Kyoto-based Aizukotetsu-kai.

With many of its readers apparently being gangsters themselves, the magazine also has ads for sex toys, sex services, irezumi tattoo artists and AV films sprinkled in between other pages featuring erotic manga, reports on foreign crime and a photo spread showing activities of right-wing groups.

The magazine found a strong readership shortly after its launch, around the time when the Ichiwa-kai seceded from within the Yamaguchi-gumi. Over the next five years, disputes between the two gangs resulted in a total of 29 deaths.

Most recently, the formation of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi as a rival to the Yamaguchi-gumi in 2015 resulted in brisk sales for Document, boosting circulation to nearly 70,000 copies per month, according to Cyzo.

However, it appears that concerns over the aforementioned anti-gang legislation, enacted in October of 2011, have won out — and the writing may have been on the wall several years ago.

The magazine was formerly owned by Takeshobo, which sold the magazine to Myway Publishing in 2013. Two years later, writer Toshiyuki Kobayashi told Rokusaisha that Takeshobo’s bank indicated that it would not extend loans “if it continued to publish a yakuza magazine,” according to J-Cast News (Mar. 24).