Yeah, when I called the police regarding the two gentlemen who had just spray painted "Pay us our money or die" on my neighbor's house, as far as I know no words were actually exchanged between the two gentlemen and the 60 year old woman who was best known in the neighborhood for feeding stray cats.
Every criminal society has a rich culture with fascinating history. The ones we don't grow up with sometimes even sound romantic. They're thugs, pimps, and murderers. Don't ever forget that.
The yakuza also acts as a form of local police. They know their quarters well and when there non-yakuza crime going on they try to suppress it as well. That's also the reason why Japan is a relatively safe place. As for yakuza-related murders, it does happen of course, but it's usually between gangs (or sometimes between political powers and gangs). There was a famous case a few years ago where a yakuza murdered an official (mayor or something) and that was on the news.
By the way, the news media never call the Yakuza "Yakuza", they call them 暴力団 (literally "violent organizations") but everyone understands what it means. There has been some recent efforts by the police to try to suppress the power of yakuza across Japan with more severe laws and prosecutions. This being said, Yakuza gangs are officially declared in Japan and registered with the authorities. They are NOT acting underground, as in they have an official status and membership registration. The Yakuza were the first organization to open street markets right after the war to sell what everyone was missing - they have powerful networks and relationships across the political and economic spectrum.
I have heard many times that for someone to become a prime Minister in Japan, they have to get Yakuza support. This is probably true (for economic reasons as well as network influence).
I found this out the hard way. If you ever find yourself in a bar in Japan, accosted by a nice Japanese man who's in any way vague about his job description, make your excuses and leave. It's not an adventure, and it's most definitely not OK "because you're in Japan".
Also, pay your rent on time.
From what I understand the sort of organization we're discussing here uses google alerts to keep an eye on any online mentions. As someone who would like to move back to Japan some day and who has a very joined-up web presence, that will be all for now.
Japan is so orderly, so safe. It just makes no sense.
The cops don't care if the Yakuza kill each other as long as it isn't in a big splashy, public way. A guy could have two holes in the back of his head and as soon as they see tattoos they'll rule it suicide. The newspapers do the same thing. Jake Adelstein said he was going to write up a murder and his boss told him "Nobody cares when a gangster gets killed. Don't bother." The Yakuza are "outlaws" in the original sense of the English word - they break the law and also they're not under the protection of the law.
They mostly made their money running pachinko parlors, brothels, extortion, and selling drugs. But are lines they Yakuza can't cross, like killing a member of the general public or a white foreigner. If they do that bosses go to jail, offices are shut down, soap palaces are raided. If you got caught killing another Yakuza the penalty used to be two or three years in jail. If you killed a member of the general public you got the death penalty.
Things are changing. They don't do the huge parades when someone important gets out of jail any more, the younger guys don't get tattoos or wear lapel pins, and many of the offices and pachinko parlors have been shut down. Murdering another Yakuza carries stiffer penalties (when the cops bother). You can't go to a public bath if you have tattoos any more. They're being driven underground. Personally, I think that will make them more like organized crime in other countries - more violent and more willing to involve normal people.
If you're interested in the subject Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein is a good read. So is Yakuza Moon: Memoirs of a Gangster's Daughter by Shoko Tendo.
The Yakuza have a special place in Japanese society. While they certainly can be classified as a criminal element, they are not wonton criminals. In times of crisis, they do help where they can. When I was in Tokyo a few years back, I always felt safe anywhere I went, even when visiting some shady areas of the city. I would never want to get on their bad side, but I never felt threatened by them.
Yakuza are actually likely more powerful than e.g. mafia in the US, both in numbers and activity. The links with politician are also very strong. The grand-father of the former prime minister J. Koizumi was most likely a yakuza, and the LDP (party who maintained power over Japan most of post WWII) was founded with yakuza money.
Someone else cited tokyo-vice, this interview by his writer is interesting and sheds some lights on the evolution of yakuza: http://boingboing.net/2010/03/18/jake-adelstein-expla.html
> I was extremely nervous. Since they are gangsters, I thought I should be very careful, in case I shot something I wasn’t supposed to see. But this actually upset the gang. They saw my nervousness as disrespectful. I remember one time early on this guy pulled me aside and said, “You are here to take pictures. Act like a professional.” It turned out they respected me if I was really aggressive about getting a certain shot. To not take photos was a sign of weakness.
The much-less-scary situations that I've photographed...police scenes, county fairs, fashion shows, sports game...it is almost always the case that acting like you're supposed to be there will work out in your advantage. The amount of outright aggressiveness is up to the individual photographer, but I imagine that this is why photogs are among the most aggressive in an average newsroom.
The same principle probably applies to every kind of business and human social scenario.
This past weekend a man was beaten to death in one of the larger clubs in the foreign nightclub area. 10 guys walked into a bar with baseball bats, two minutes later they get into a van and drive away. They will never be caught. http://japandailypress.com/man-beaten-to-death-in-roppongi-c...
To understand how brazen this attack was, its the equivalent to walking into McDonalds in the middle of Times Square with baseball bats and mask and beating someone to death. There are police all over this area. The nearest police station is a 3 minute walk from where this happened.
"According to the Japanese media and other sources, a group of ten men wearing ski-masks burst into the Roppongi Club Flower today at approximately 3:40 am and assaulted four men and women sitting together in the VIP room, clubbing one to death and injuring the others. The men used a backdoor entrance which led directly to the VIP room."
The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department Investigation Division One 警視庁捜査一課 (Homicide and Violent Crimes) is investigating the case as a homicide. On December 14th, 2011, a group of twenty men burst into a Roppongi Cabaret club and assaulted four members affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi Kokusui-kai (山口組国粋会), with beer bottles and blunt weapons, injuring one of them severely. The police suspect there may be a possible link to the two cases. The assault in December was believed to have been carried out by members of the Kanto Rengo (関東連合) a loosely networked gang different from the traditional yakuza, and not a designated organized crime group. Kanto Rengo is known for extremely violent assaults and because they are not a designated organized crime group, they are subject to less restrictions than the Yamaguchi-gumi and other crime groups.
I guess it depends on the definition of Yakuza, if you mean the officially registered organizations with registered members then no they aren't. But if you mean a large criminal organization of Japanese people, I think its safe to say they are.
Its also not uncommon for Yakuza groups like Yamaguchi-gumi to "acquire" a "gang" like Kanto Rengo and turn them into their regional office.
Having lived in Japan for a number of years, I can attest to the fact that the remarkably low incident of street crime is often attributed to the Yakuza presence. It's a notion the gangs themselves actively promote and does contribute to the public's continued tolerance of their presence.
Actually, people whose job involves violence and killing often take great pains to portray themselves with moral systems also called "codes of honor." (The actual morality of their activities is another question entirely.) Many crime organizations descend from feudal systems of government. The Yakuza and the Sicilian mob are prime examples of this.
> ...Shoichiro, the street boss, told me “We can get the most money out of the economy.”
One of main sources of income they had was debt collection. They would actually go and buy entire loan databases and pay off the money people owed. Of course, after that happened, those debts were just transferred over to the yakuza.
There was a highly successful US company in the 90's that bought lots of debt from delinquent debtors for pennies on the dollar and made a huge profit getting people to pay. (But they did this by being nice and winning the debtors over, not through threats.)
I suspect that much of organized crime in the US has evolved in a similar fashion to Japanese organized crime. I also suspect that the resulting corruption is a major component of our current political and fiscal woes.
> The gang made its recruits attend week-long orientations at a fishing village. I went along for one of these. There was bodyguard training, how to defend from a knife attack, stuff like that. But these recruits also rose at four in the morning to meditate. They helped local fisherman with their haul, cooked together at the end of the day. They learned how to handle samurai swords. There was something very ceremonial about it. It was strange, having these helpful and violent things happening side by side that illustrated how yakuza saw themselves…bad people doing good things.
The Yakuza are the last remnants of the old Bushido order. Bushido, for all of its aesthetics and philosophical value, has no place in modern life where competition between nations is economic and where the democratized tools of killing make violence the last resort of the marginal. Swords are no longer the tools of state. The scope of violence has shrunk to criminal life.
Hernando de Soto talks about how the Shining Path provided social services to build legitimacy in his incredible book, "The Other Path: The Invisible Revolution in the Third World":
Sudhir Venkatesh also talks in his book about how drug dealers in Chicago provide similar services, in order to be not be rejected by communities inside of public housing projects.
Yakuza - like drug dealers and terrorists - are capable of great violence, but the photographer's point was that within the yakuza community that he experienced, violence is seen as a last resort. And that community activities that provide legitimacy is an important tool as well, in order to be accepted by the local community and also as a recruitment tool. This is definitely a common theme in the literature and my personal experience as well.
They are violent and target innocents, the Yakuza should never be mistaken for honourable.
If you tried to write the same book about MS-13 you'd be dead before you got to the second page.
The part about peoples debt being transferred to the Yakuza was terrifying though. There's a movie plot in there somewhere.
Probably because, yet again, a moderator saw fit to change the helpful descriptive title the original poster used to the single word that it is now. Sigh.
If I remember correctly there is a very strict weapons control in Japan, has this guided the development of the Yakuza?
The articles doesn't actually mention any examples of this purported white collar crime, unless you count extortion as such.
The Mexican cartels aren't tolerated at all, in the US or in Mexico. When they get caught sentences are pretty much already maxed out, so they have nothing to lose by being as brutal as possible.
I am not saying you should change your mind on any subject - but the fact (no sources, only ekianjo statement and a few others I have spoken with over the years), that "The yakuza also acts as a form of local police" and better / more successful than most "authorized police" do, is a really interesting thing.
I know that it's not the smartest thing to let police, police themselves - especially when their income is through criminal actions.
But maybe it would be interesting to dig out, why their ways seems to work better than many police forces.
Which, by the way, also seems a corrupt at times.
A couple of things I think is interesting to think about:
What is corruption?
Would if it was o.k. for a police officer to cover over his partners (minor) wrong-doings?
Then it wouldn't be corruption... Family maybe?
What makes the Yakuza better at policing than police? A harder and better hierarchical structure? The concept of honor, but in a strong "family"-like context?
Is it just the plain old simple reason: people are... lets put it nicely: eager to not cross the wrong path?..
Arguably, the Chinese gov't can be the equivalent of Yakuza in China, except they're publicly in power.
The US gov't also does extrajudicial killings, but is probably much more democratic than the above two groups (probably because of larger public presence).
Why would you assume that? Did you miss that Obama has assassinated US citizens?
What does it have to do with hacker culture? It's about two businesses - organized crime and documentary photography - in which successful people have similar qualities and strategies of those in hacking and in any entrepreneurial business
Yeah, there's a great article by 37 signals about how to break your competitors kneecaps so that they'll be crippled for the rest of their lives.
Now as a hacker/entrepreneur, you attempt to start a competitor against what seems like a backwards thinking, complacent established company. You think your product and strategy is so obviously going to win because you think you know why your established competitor succeeds, and you believe youve one-upped them.
And yet you fail. Do you sit around doubting your skill? Do you accuse the competitor of doing something outright illegal and evil? Or do you accept that there might be things under the surface that you hadn't considered (some of which may be illegal but not to the point where it would cause actual, game changing prosecution)?
To say that the abstracted takeaways from here don't apply to anything a hacker does, even a pure coder, is an extremely narrow mindset, and is probably the kind of mind that thinks Steve Woz would be a billionaire if he never met Steve Jobs (and even Woz knows that isn't the case).
Hacking is more about literal code and computers. If HN encompasses entrepernurial strategy, then not everything about being a successful hacker can be found on github.
"You have a nice family/business. I'll hurt or kill them if you don't pay me money."
It's pretty easy because parents, wives, children or businesses are fairly soft targets. You can't always be looking over your shoulder.
Organized crime is less than a zero-sum game, it's a negative sum game: the more prevalent it is, the more resources it sucks out of society, and the more resources society must dedicate to defending itself from parasites.
In my mind, creative hacks are the polar opposite of that: they make something from nothing, or are a clever way to eliminate a lot of dreary work.
I was going to respond, "Well, neither are most established businesses" but I think you misunderstood me. The disruptors, in this case, are not the Yakuza. They are the established entities. How much actual power they have is up for debate, but not terribly important to the point. The point is that they have a seemingly rooted place in Japanese society and the question should be: How can a presumably criminal enterprise still exist in a lawful society?
The answer, according to the OP, is relatively benign; it's not "because they utilize ninja stealth and James Bond-like technology". I think if you step back from the specific context of criminality and ask the question of why any established enterprise/institution still has power/recognition, the reasons are likely to be depressingly uninteresting than intriguing or complex. Exhibit A: Most political entities and regulations.
On-Topic: Anything that good hackers would find interesting. That includes more than hacking and startups. If you had to reduce it to a sentence, the answer might be: anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity.
Maybe the blame is this stupid, non-central ranking mechanism which makes idiots like you and OP motivated to dump such stuff here for points and down-vote any criticism that does make sense.
> Be civil... When disagreeing, please reply to the argument instead of calling names
All are institutions and create the institutional fabric of society. A society that is trending toward greater human rights will observe certain trends in all three kinds of institutions... as will one that is trending toward decreased human rights.
If you feel this much hatred about why this was posted, click the pretty X in the upper corner of the window and don't come back here.
We do not need your bile. I quite enjoyed it, and wouldn't have found it unless it was posted to HN.