Saturday, May 1, 2021

"Making a slow getaway: Japan's anti-yakuza laws result in cohort of ageing gangsters"

From The Guardian, September 5, 2020:

More than half of yakuza are now over 50 - and 10% are over 70 - as a result of an ageing population and police crackdowns

A double-whammy of skewed demographics and legal crackdowns has forced Japan’s yakuza crime syndicates to call on middle-aged men to do their dirtiest work, as they struggle to attract new blood to replenish their dwindling ranks.

For the first time since records began in 2006, 51.2% of regular yakuza members are aged 50 or over – with a noticeable increase in septuagenarians – according to a new report by the national police agency.

In 2006, the biggest single group of gang members – 30.6% - were in their 30s, but they now represent just 14% of the total. Less than 5% are in their 20s, while septuagenarians now account for just over 10%, the agency said.

More than a decade of police crackdowns on major gangs and economic uncertainty are making it harder for the yakuza to tempt young men with promises of easy money. Instead, they face decades of risk-taking on behalf of their bosses and longer prison sentences – all without the prospect of a pension.

“Japan’s ageing population is a factor, of course, but the yakuza scene is no longer an attractive proposition for young men,” Tomohiko Suzuki, an author and expert on the yakuza, told the Guardian. “They have to sacrifice a lot to lead the life of a gangster, but for increasingly diminishing returns.”

Stricter laws, including those targeting businesses with links to gangs that had once operated with near-impunity, have made a life of crime increasingly unappealing: yakuza members are forbidden from opening bank accounts, obtaining a credit card, taking out insurance policies or even signing a contract for a mobile phone.

‘The times have changed’

A former gangster who retired in his 70s said he had witnessed large numbers of young men quickly become disaffected and leave within a year of being recruited.

“My generation dreamed about becoming high-ranking gang members who were popular with women, had money and drove fancy cars,” he told the Asahi Shimbun. “But the times have changed. Young people today don’t like the idea of being tied down to a gang.”....


Previously on the Japanese gangsters:

Organized Crime: "Yakuza Salivating Over New Construction Boom"

Japan's New Anti-organized Crime Law Playing Havoc With Golf, Pizza Industries
..."We have to improve our image," said Masatoshi Kumagai, one of the yakuza bosses. Yakuza are on decline, he said, and... 'We Have To Evolve Our Business Model' ...

Japanese Mafia Steps Up With Disaster Aid

The writer, Jake Adelstein, is one crazy mo-fo.
He is the pre-eminent Tokyo police-beat reporter writing in English, specializing in vice and organized crime.
He was also the first American to work for a Japanese newspaper as a Japanese language reporter.
His reporting of the UCLA organ transplant scam (because of their tattoos Yakuza often have kidney and especially liver problems) garnered him a few death threats and from time to time his sources decide to beat him to a pulp.

"Yakuza: Japan’s armed venture capitalists"