This one is a very interesting post about the Yakuza and how it is intertwined with Japan’s culture and politics. I found these parts here specially surprising:
“How involved are the yakuza in the way business in Japan is run today?
In the financial markets, I’d say about 20% of listed companies are heavily connected to the yakuza. There’s a hell of a lot more money to be made moving a million shares of stock than a hundred bags of speed on the streets.
How about in politics?
The Liberal Democratic Party was founded on yakuza money. Former prime minister Koizumi’s grandfather was a member of the Inagawa-kai; he was tattooed all the way down to his wrists. According to magazine articles written in the nineties, the current minister of finance Kamei Shizuka received $400,000 from a yakuza stock speculator and certainly received donations from the emperor of loan sharks.
What’s preventing change from taking place?
Polticians. They don’t want a criminal conspiracy law in the books. I don’t think there are any politicians who don’t have any dirt of them. And if any politician starts coming down hard on organized crime — if they don’t physcially kill him like they did the mayor of Nagasaki — they’ll ruin his reputation.
Here’s the thing: Japanese people kind of like the yakuza. They admire them. There are movies about them, comic books about them, there are fan magazines… they’re part of the culture. They promote traditional values.
One of the reasons Japan has low street crime rates is because these guys are very good enforcers. In the neighborhoods where they’re running businesses or collecting protection money, you won’t see people getting mugged because the yakuza don’t want people to be afraid to come there and spend money. They are a second police force and in that sense, and perform a valuable role in Japanese society. ”
You should also check out the other post with Jake Adelstein, a self-proclaimed “Jewish reporter who thinks like a Japanese gangster“. Cool stuff.