The Japanese Yakuza

The Japanese Yakuza is one of the more traditional Organized Crime groups. The Yakuza are the main power in Japan and have branched out to other Asian countries, the United States, Canada and parts of Europe. However Japan remains their main stronghold. The Yakuza are active in gambling, drugs, prostitution, construction, weaponsmuggling, extortion, money-laundering and blackmail.

The name "Yakuza" comes from the losing number set of the game oicho-kabu (a version of black jack). That number set: 8-9-3 is spoken as ya-ku-za. The word yakuza is therefor used to describe a person who is not appreciated by society, an outcast.

According to Paul Lunde's book "Organized Crime", there are 2500 gangs in Japan with between 100.000 to 150.000 members collectively called the Yakuza. The biggest Yakuza group is the Yamaguchi Gumi with 750 clans with a total of 17.500 members. In February 2006 the National Police Agency (NPA) said there were approximately 43,300 gangsters across the country as of the end of 2005, a decrease of 1,000 from 2004. The number rises to about 86,000 if associate members are included. However, the Kobe-based Yamaguchi-gumi has increased its members. It had some 21,700 full members, up 900 from a year earlier. They accounted for 50.1 percent of all gangsters in Japan. It has 19,300 associate members, an increase of 900. Some 73 percent of Japan's gangsters belong to one of the nation's top three crime syndicates -- the Yamaguchi-gumi, the Sumiyoshi-kai and the Inagawa-kai, the NPA said.


Kakuji "Seijo" Inagawa (founder of the Inagawa-kai)
Shinobu Tsukasa (sixth boss of the Yamaguchi-Gumi)
Hisayuki Machii (dead, natural causes)
Yoshinori Watanabe (retired boss of the Yamaguchi Gumi)
Kazuo "The Bear" Taoka (dead, natural causes)
Yoshio Kodama (dead, natural causes)