Yakuza from Shadowrun Sourcebook, Vice

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.


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.

Yakuza Hierarchy from Shadowrun Sourcebook, Vice

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.

Yakuza in the Sixth WorldEdit

The Yakuza have linked their fortunes to Mitsuhama Computer Technologies. The MCT uses the Yakuza on the streets to advance their interests and the Yakuza in turn use MCT to launder their money. Being extricably tied together has greatly benefited both, though some Yakuza rengos are violently opposed to those who have such ties. Their association with MCT has given the Yakuza a ruthless efficiency.[1]

Activities in the Sixth WorldEdit


Yakuza in the late 21st century are involved in a wide variety of activities. Their main sources of income are gambling, drug trafficking, prostitution, and corporate extortion.[2][3] Other activities include protection rackets, street sales of drugs, BTL chip production and trafficking, manufacturing of counterfeit goods, loansharking, organ-legging, and Matrix crimes.[4][5]

Big 3 Yakuza GroupsEdit

Though there are many Yakuza syndicates, three of them are major international crime syndicates. The largest and most powerful Yakuza group is the Watada-rengo, which is a worldwide organization with branches in Southeast Asia, the UCAS, and Amazonia. The Four Oyaban Rengo is likewise a worldwide syndicate, through its control of the Mitsuhama Computer Technologies megacorporation. Shotozomi-rengo which is Watada-rengo's main rival, has branches in both North and South America.[6]

Yakuza SetbacksEdit

In it's contest with other rival crime syndicates, the Yakuza has recently been losing ground. The start of it all was the Shotozumi Uprising in the early 2060s, which resulted in a division of the global Watada-rengo empire, as they lost most of their empire in the Americas.[7] Due to nationalist opposition in the form of the Filipino Huk rebels in the Philippines and the Korean Jo-pok syndicates in the Korean peninsula, they have lost their primacy in both nations.[8] Not to mention the decline of the Yakuza in San Francisco after the imperial withdrawal and their weakened position in Seattle at the end of the Tempo War.[9][10]

In Russia they only have an outpost in Vladivostok, in China a beachhead in both the Coastal Provinces and the communist state of Henan, and in Aztlan a lonely outpost in Techochtitlan. They have been unable to expand further into the rest of China, Aztlan, or Russia.[11][12][13] So far the Triads have been able to crush any attempt by the Yakuza to establish themselves in either Macao or in Hong Kong itself.[14][15] Meanwhile in Aztlan, after the Tempo-Drug War, the David Cartel eliminated all operations within Aztlan of rival foreign syndicates (Yakuza, Mafia, and Ghost Cartels).[16][1]

On the other hand, the Yakuza are facing a major threat on their homeland. In the Neo-Tokyo sprawl, the Russia Vory, the Koreans, and the Triads have all established a solid presence.[17][18][19] To make matters worse, the most powerful Triad is now entrenched in Japan. The Red Dragon Triad is not only in Neo-Tokyo, but they have spread throughout Japan.[20][21]

Membership in the Sixth WorldEdit

Rival Schools of ThoughtEdit

In the aftermath of the Awakening, the Yakuza discriminated against metahumans. Yakuza members who had changed, either committed suicide or went into exile. In the following decades, the Yakuza syndicates forbid the recruitment of women, metahumans, foreigners, or magic users.[22] Eventually a divide emerged in the Yakuza between the Old School and the New Way factions. The traditionalists of the Old School believed in Japanese superiority and were xenophobic ultra-nationalists. In turn the reformers of the New Way embraced and accepted the Awakened, metahumans, women, and those whom are part-Japanese.[6]

Ideological DivideEdit

The Watada-rengo are fully Old School, as every member syndicate is required to follow that path when it comes to membership. Their main rivals, the Shotozumi-rengo has left it to its members to decide what policy to follow, therefore some syndicates are Old School and others are New Way.[23] Four Oyabun Rengo has taken a firmly neutral position when it comes to the ideological dispute.[24] The newly established and growing Wanibuchi-rengo of Neo-Tokyo is solidly New Way, and has been recruiting extensively from the formerly proscribed classes of people.[25]


The Yakuza don't like shadowrunners, as they see them as dishonorable. Unless the team is all Japanese, human, and male, they will often have issues with at least one member of the team. Yakuza "Johnsons" assume the shadowrunners are idiots, often refuse to answer questions or provide more information, and prefer to pay in kind (usually vices, though sometimes equipment).[26]

Nations and City-States with YakuzaEdit

Far East:

North America:


Rest of the World:

Major BoryokudanEdit

Other Yakuza GroupsEdit


Article forked from "Yakuza" on Wikipedia

  1. o35238545Shadowrun Fifth Edition Core Rulebook p.34
  2. o05084094Underworld Sourcebook p.40
  3. o05084094Underworld Sourcebook p.45-46
  4. o07914318Corporate Enclaves p.98
  5. o07914318Corporate Enclaves p.100-103
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 o33031982Vice p.52
  7. o33031982Vice p.53-54
  8. o06516714The Clutch of Dragons p.101
  9. o44378411Shadows in Focus: City by Shadow: San Francisco p.15
  10. o61900501Ghost Cartels p.132
  11. o70096438Shadows of Asia p.139
  12. o33031982Vice p.43
  13. o53561113Aztlan p.166
  14. o34954845Sixth World Almanac p.117
  15. o39478620Runner Havens p.48
  16. o33031982Vice p.86
  17. o61900501Ghost Cartels p.107
  18. o61900501Ghost Cartels p.110
  19. o07914318Corporate Enclaves p.103
  20. o70096438Shadows of Asia p.82
  21. o61900501Ghost Cartels p.107-110
  22. o05084094Underworld Sourcebook p.39
  23. o33031982Vice p.53
  24. o33031982Vice p.54
  25. o07914318Corporate Enclaves p.101-103
  26. o02196230Run Faster p.208
  27. o70096438Shadows of Asia p.187
  28. o70096438Shadows of Asia p.43
  29. o77009313Storm Front p.48-48
  30. o70096438Shadows of Asia p.172
  31. o70096438Shadows of Asia p.148
  32. 32.0 32.1 o70096438Shadows of Asia p.149
  33. 33.0 33.1 o70096438Shadows of Asia p.154
  34. o70096438Shadows of Asia p.159
  35. o44378411Shadows in Focus: City by Shadow: San Francisco p.15
  36. o38715534Shadows of North America p.163
  37. o38715534Shadows of North America p.27-28
  38. 38.0 38.1 o30783549Shadows of Europe p.36
  39. o30783549Shadows of Europe p.172
  40. o30783549Shadows of Europe p.196
  41. o30783549Shadows of Europe p.57
  42. o39478620Runner Havens p.127
  43. o53666454Shadows in Focus: City by Shadow: Metrópole p.27
  44. o70096438Shadows of Asia p.196
  45. o57038227Target: Awakened Lands p.27


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