Yakuza Tattoos

It's usual within yakuza circuits to tattoo themselves, usually is it their clan's badges that they have all over their body. The origin of the yakuza tattoo comes from the Bakuto. They usually tattooed a black ring around the arm for each crime they committed. Finally it became a symbol of strength. It can take over 100 hours to do an entire back tattoo. The tattoo was to illustrate you were unwilling to accommodate yourself to societies rules and norms. Now is it to illustrate your clan affiliations.

Kodama – The Peace Maker

The man who brought peace between many of the yakuza factions was named Yoshio Kodama.

Kodama was in jail for the early part of the occupation, placed in the same section as cabinet officers, military, and ultranationalists. He himself was part of the ultranationalist group Kenkoku-kai (Association of the Founding of the Nation). In the late 1930's and early 1940's he worked as an espionage agent for the Japanese government, touring East Asia. He worked on a major operation to obtain strategic materiel needed for the Japanese war effort.

By the end of the war, he had obtained the rank of rear admiral (an impressive feat at the age of thirty-four), and was advisor to the prime minister. He was rounded up with other government officials in 1946 and placed in Sugamo Prison to await trial. The occupation forces saw Kodama as a high security risk, should he ever be released, due to his fanatacism with the ultranationalists.

Kodama had made a deal with the occupation forces G-2 section, and upon his release, was working for the intelligence branch of G-2. He was the principal go-between for G-2 and the yakuza by 1950. (Kaplan, p63-9)

In the early 60's, Kodama wanted the yakuza gangs, who were now fighting one another, to join together into one giant coalition. He deplored the warfare, seeing it as a threat to anticommunist unity. He used many of his connections to secure a truce between the gangs. He made a fast alliance between Kazuo Taoka, oyabun of the Yamaguchi-gumi faction, and Hisayuki Machii, a Korean crimeboss in charge of Tosei-kai.

The alliance broke the Kanto-kai faction for good. Kodama continued to use his influence to mediate the alliance between the Inagawa-kai and its Kanto allies and Yamaguchi-gumi. The truce that Kodama had envisioned was now at hand.
Yoshio Kodama was then referred to as the Japanese underworld's visionary godfather

Organizations like Yakuza

Italy has the La Cosa Nostra.
America has the Mafia.
The Irish and Jews have their own crime organizations in America.
Southeast Asia has the Triads.
China, Hong Kong and Taiwan have the Tong.

Members of yakuza organization

For the yakuza it doesn´t matter were you comes from, which country or from which class of society you belongs to, you can become a member anyway. Yakuza takes care of the misfits in the society. Yakuza members can be youth that been abandoned by their parents, youths that not managed the high pressure from the school, refugees from Korea, China etc.

Their nearest boss becomes like their father and their comrades as brothers. Yakuza offers not just companionship also money, status, authority. A part of a group were you feel useful and needed. Comparing with gangs in the USA suburbs.

There is no thresholds or requirements in order to become a member. But when you are inside there are obedience to the superiors.

Structure of Yakuza

It exists two types of yakuza, clan- yakuza and freelance yakuza.

Freelance yakuza

Freelancing yakuza is a yakuza that not commit any bigger crimes and belongs to a little group of hustlers.

They have however some difficulties to survive or not come into jail, because the clan- yakuza not allows anyone other to operate within their territories. Clan- yakuza can tip the police about crimes that the freelance yakuza haven´t commit.

If the freelance- yakuza earns to much money, the clan- yakuza kills the freelancing- yakuza or make him disappear without a trace.

Klan- yakuza can however have a certain use of a freelance yakuza. If the clan- yakuza shall do something that they not want the clan to be associate with, they can turn to a freelancing yakuza that, for a sum of money, does the job for them.

A freelance- yakuza can also be used as a scapegoat if it acquires a guilty to a crime.
If a freelancer is a truly genius he can manage to begin his own clan. Usual a freelance- yakuza becomes, if they not gets killed,a member in a clan.

Yakuza Klan

The clan have been compared to the Sicilian mafias "family". The clan is structured much like a common family in traditional Japan. The clan has a hierarchy structure. The clans head chief is called Oyabun, that means Father. Beneath him he has his children(Wakashu) and brothers(Kyodai). These are not his real children and brothers, only designations of rank and position they have within the clan. All the members in the clan obey the Oyabun and in return he protects them against all dangers.

Oyabun is almighty within the clan and his words is the law. All obey him without hesitation or concern for their own life. Beneath him, oyabun has an adviser that is called Saiko-komon and he has a staff of advocates, accountants, secretaries and advisers. The children's (Wakashu) boss called Waka gashira. He is number two in the clan after Oyabun, not in rank but in authority. He acts as a middleman to see that the oyabun's orders are being accomplished.

The children leaders over their own (sub) gangs and over time can move up in the structure. In that way the clan becomes a ramification with several sub families. The oyabun's "brothers" or Kyodai, boss is called Shatei gashira. Shatei gashira is of higher rank than Waka gashira but doesn't have more authority. "The Brothers" have their own "children" or "younger brothers"(Shatei). Shatei, has its own sub gangs etc. Everyone obeys its gangleader, but it's always the oyabun's word that counts.

Yakuza Current Activities

Much of the current activities of the yakuza can be understood in the light of their feudal origin. First, they are not a secret society like their counterparts of the Italian mafia and Chinese triads. Yakuza organizations often have an office with a wooden board on the front door, openly displaying their group name or emblem. Members often wear sunglasses and colourful suits so that their profession can be immediately recognized by civilians (katagi).

Even the way many Yakuza walk is markedly different from ordinary citizens. Their arrogant, wide gait is markedly different from the quiet, unassuming way many Japanese go about their business. Alternatively, they can be more conservatively dressed but when the need arises, they can flash their tattoos to indicate their affiliation. On occasion they also sport insignia pins on their lapels.

Until recently, the majority of yakuza income came from protection rackets in shopping, entertainment and red-light districts within their territory. This is mainly due to the reluctance of such businesses to seek help from the police. The Japanese police are also reluctant to interfere in internal matters in recognized communities such as shopping arcades, schools/universities, night districts and so on. In this sense, yakuza are still regarded as semi-legitimate organizations. For example, immediately after the Kobe earthquake, the Yamaguchi-gumi, whose headquarters are in Kobe, mobilised itself to provide disaster relief services (including the use of a helicopter), and this was widely reported by the media as a contrast to the much slower response by the Japanese government. For this reason, many yakuza regard their income and hustle (shinogi) as a collection of a feudal tax.
Yakuza frequently engage in a uniquely Japanese form of extortion, known as sōkaiya.In essence, this is a specialized form of protection racket.

Instead of harassing small businesses, the yakuza harasses a stockholders' meeting of a larger corporation. They simply scare the ordinary stockholder with the presence of yakuza operatives, who obtain the right to attend the meeting by a small purchase of stock. They also engage in simple blackmail, obtaining incriminating or embarrassing information about a company's practices or leaders. Once the yakuza gain a foothold in these companies, they will work for them to protect the company from having such internal scandals exposed to the public. Some companies still include payoffs as part of their annual budget.

Yakuza also have ties to the Japanese realty market and banking, through jiageya.Jiageya specialize in inducing holders of small real estate to sell their property so that estate companies can carry out much larger development plans. Japan's bubble economy of the 1980s is often blamed on real estate speculation by banking subsidiaries. After the collapse of the Japanese property bubble, a manager of a major bank in Nagoya was assassinated, and much speculation ensued about the banking industry's indirect connection to the Japanese underworld.

As a matter of principle, theft is not recognised as a legitimate activity of yakuza. This is in line with idea that their activities are semi-open; theft by definition would be a covert activity. More importantly, such an act would be considered a trespass by the community. Also, yakuza usually do not conduct the actual business operation by themselves. Core business activities such as merchandising, loan sharking or management of gambling houses are typically managed by non-yakuza members who pay protection fees for their activities.

There is much evidence of Yakuza involvement in international crime. There are many tattooed Yakuza members imprisoned in various Asian prisons for such crimes as drug trafficking and arms smuggling. In 1997 one verified Yakuza member was caught smuggling 4 kilograms of heroin into Canada. In 1999, Italian-American Mafia Bonnano family cap and enforcer, Mickey Zaffarano, was overheard talking about the profits of the pornography trade that both families could profit from. Another Yakuza racket is bringing women of other ethnicities/races, especially White/European and Asian to Japan under the lure of a glamourous position, then forcing the women into prostitution.