March 16, 2017
TOKYO- The number of regular members of crime syndicates in Japan as of the end of 2016 fell 10 pct from a year before to some 18,100, slipping below 20,000 for the first time since 1958, the oldest year for which data are available, National Police Agency data showed Thursday.
Total members, including associates, decreased 17 pct to about 39,100, the first drop below 40,000. The overall number has been gradually declining after peaking at some 180,000 in 1963.
In 2007, the Japanese government announced guidelines urging businesses to sever ties with antisocial forces. By 2011, ordinances banning the supply of financial benefits to crime syndicates and their members went into effect across the country.
“It’s getting harder for crime syndicates to procure funds,” a senior NPA official said, pointing to large effects of the ordinances.
The membership of Yamaguchi-gumi, one of the biggest crime syndicates in Japan, stood at about 11,800 as of the end of last year, down 16 pct, with regular members accounting for 5,200. Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, set up by those who broke away from Yamaguchi-gumi and in conflict with the original group, had about 5,500 members, including 2,600 regular members.
The total was down 10 pct from the end of 2015. The number of cases in which police issued recommendations to crime syndicates based on the anti-gang ordinances came to 74, while there were 1,337 cases of police ordering them to stop acts, such as demanding “mikajimeryo,” or fees gangs collect from businesses operating in their territories, under the country’s law for combating crime syndicates.
Police took action against about 20,000 gang members and associates. Of them, 25 pct were suspected to have violated the stimulants control law.
In cases of crime for financial profits, police action was taken against 6.5 out of 1,000 crime syndicate members in 2016, up from 3.7 in 2007.
Members of six crime syndicates, including Yamaguchi-gumi and Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, were found to have been involved in a case in May 2016 in which a total of some 1.8 billion yen was illegally withdrawn from automated teller machines simultaneously in 17 prefectures including Tokyo. (Jiji Press)
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