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Yakuza (やくざ or ヤクザ) also known as gokudou, are members of traditional organized crime groups that originate from Japan. In Japanese legal terminology, yakuza organizations are referred to as boryokudan (暴力団, "violence groups"), which more traditional "samurai heritage" Yakuza members consider an insult as boroyokudan is applied to any violent criminal.

Unlike many organized crime groups, like the Triads and the Mafia, which evolved from secret societies, the model of the Yakuza was the machi yakko (町奴, "town servant"), vigilantes protectors within the community (Although many citizens also view them as kabukimono or crazy ones, for their propensity toward violence, vulgar slang, and bizarre appearance) or the masterless samurai ronin. As a result, at least in the JIS and it's protectorates, Yakuza groups maintain open offices, often with a wooden plank on the front door displaying the group name and their emblem. Yakuza members often wear sunglasses and flashy suits so that their profession can be immediately recognized by civilians (堅気, katagi). Members typically wear insignia pins on their suits, and, if needed, can display their tattoos or customized cyberware.

Organization and ActivitiesEdit

The Yakuza group are typically headed by the Oyabun (親分, "father" or "boss") or Kumicho (組長, "family head"), who issues orders to his subordinates, the kobun (子分, "children"). This is a variation of the traditional Japanese social heirarchal structure of senpai-kohai (Senior-Junior). There are some exceptions to this, such as the Inagawa-kai, which operates with multiple kumicho, all of which share equal power within the organization.

A Yakuza members connection within the organization is based off the place in the order of the sakazuki (盃, "sake sharing") ritual. The sakazuki ritual is sharing the sake from a single cup with another, and comes from the traditional practice of a Shinto wedding. Kumicho are the top of the organization, and control saiko-komon (最高顧問, "senior advisors"). The saiko-komon are responsible for their own turf in different cities or regions, and have their own underlings, like underbosses, advisors, accountants, and enforcers. Those who receive sake directly from the kumicho are consider the "immediate family" and are ranked in term of elder or younger brothers. However, each kobun, in turn, can offer sakazuki as if they where the kumicho to his underlings to form an affiliated organization, which might in turn form lower rank organizations.

Yakuza refer to each other as if they where family members, such as fathers, elder and younger brothers. However, contray to Western belief, blood relation is not necessary for membership into the Yakuza, as it is with the Mafia, and the Yakuza accept non-Japanese members, such as Korean-Japanese, into their ranks. Many Yakuza members cut all family ties upon joining the organization and immediately transfer loyalty to the kumicho. The Yakuza group replaces the family in the lives of its members.

Most Yakuza organizations are usually referred to using the number of generations or times the oyabun or kumicho has been replaced, either through retirement or death, as a measure of the age of that group. For example, in 1984, the 4th Yamaguchi-gumi was formed when Takenaka Masahisa became the new oyabun following a bloody succession from the 3rd Yamaguchi-gumi, headed by Taoka Kazuo. Takenaka was killed in 1985, and in 1989, the 5th Yamaguchi-gumi was formed when Watanabe Yoshinori took control as the organization's fifth oyabun.

Occupational Background of YakuzaEdit

Occupation Full status members Marginal status members Total
Bakuto (Gamblers) 26,960 5,148 32,198 (31%)
Tekiga (Peddlers) 21,438 2,570 24,008 (23%)
Gurentai (Hoodlums) 9,861 1,639 11,500 (11%)
Seaport racketeers 3,221 0 3,221 (3%)
Sokaya (Corporate Racketeers) 47 2,417 2,464 (2%)
Scandal sheet extortionists 41 803 844 (1%)
Prostitution gangers 495 74 569 (1%)
Others 39 29,202 29,241 (28%)
Totals 62,102 41,853 103,955 (100%)

Source: National Police Agency, 1980

Note: These categories are fluid; there are frequent crossovers. For example, many bakuto and tekaya may act a sokaya and other racketeers. Also many sokaya and right wing gangers are not counted as Yakuza in official statistics and do not appear here. The total number of yakuza officially stood at 98,771 in 1984.

Notes from David E. Kaplan & Alec Dubro's "Yakuza - The explosive account of Japan's criminal underworld", Queen Anne press, 1987.

Saiki-rengo and the Kawaru-gumi in Australia [1]

Yakuza groups [2]

Major BoryokudanEdit

ReferencesEdit

Article forked from "Yakuza" on Wikipedia

  1. Target: Awakened Lands p.27
  2. cp p.83

IndexEdit

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