Everyone’s most loved group, the Yakuza, is once again being brought down by “The Man.” The Japanese organized crime syndicates, known for their strict code of conduct and crimes such as extortion, prostitution, blackmail, protection money and fraud, are now in danger of losing a significant part of their revenue. Last October, organized crime exclusionary laws went into effect, and are starting to take a toll on the group.
Robin Hood And His Band Of Merry Yakuza
This isn’t the first time the Yakuza have been unfairly mistreated. Even though the group has came to the aid of Japanese inhabitants numerous times, Tokyo wastes no time in limiting their activities. Why all the hate Tokyo? Have you already forgotten the Robin Hood-like deeds of the Yakuza? Was Sega’s exclusion of important content (hostess bars) from the Western-version of Yakuza 3 not enough? Hostess bars are an important part of the Yakuza culture, you know! Geesh.
Setting aside all the illegal activities the Yakuza are involved in, the group does have an appearance of being a band of good Samaritans. In the previous two major natural disasters in Japan, the Great Hanshin earthquake and the Tohoku earthquake & tsunami, the major Yakuza groups have been one of the most responsive in providing significant amounts of supplies and shelter to the distressed. In less than a day, the major Yakuza groups were able to transport essential supplies to ground zero. FEMA could learn a thing or two from the Yakuza on emergency response for natural disasters.
Yes, you could say it is a PR move. But, like a boss, they asked the media and distributors to not reveal the source of the help, mostly out of concern for the individuals that would automatically turn down anything associated to the Yakuza. Putting others before themselves in a times of crisis. Could they be more saint-like?
So what are the new laws? To sum it up in one primary_sentence:
Anyone doing business with the Yakuza can be charged as a criminal.
Paying off blackmail, hush money, or an evening with a hostess at a Yakuza-run hostess bar could potentially net you some jail time, a fine, and/or have your name publicly associated to the group (i.e. social suicide, just ask Shinsuke Shimada). But what constitutes ‘doing business’ with the Yakuza? The definition isn’t clear cut, but anything that fosters their activities could land the ‘innocent’ party in trouble. So, let’s check out how the new laws have affected the Yakuza and their “clients.”
Can’t Wait To Show Off Your New Yakuza Business Cards? Not Going To Happen
Just like any other business, print shops are required to be in compliance with the new laws. This restriction also includes print-makers that do meishi (business cards). You may be thinking who cares if a bunch of mobsters can’t get a hold of business cards. Here’s the thing: business cards are extremely important in Japan. It is a very crucial element when one establishes business relations with another.
No matter of your business status, if you don’t have a business card to offer, you are often dismissed as unimportant or irrelevant. Business cards and the ritual around it is an art and very serious business that is also a part of the Yakuza culture (they are Japanese, after all).
Not having a business card in Japan would suck pretty bad. Looks like they’ll have to start changing their job titles to things other than “Yakuza boss” or “Sans-Pinky Driver” to get around this law problem. I bet Kinkos America would be happy to provide some Yakuza business cards, though.
It’s Not Delivery, It’s Digiorno.
Imagine that you are sitting in your Yakuza’s business office in downtown Tokyo, hard at work counting the hush money you have collected from, let’s say, Olympus (Oops, see what I did there?). But then it dawns on you that it is FRIDAY. Not just any Friday, but PIZZA FRIDAY! Every Yakuza’s member’s favorite day of the week (Sushi Sunday comes in at a close second). This is the (theoretical / made up) day when your Kyodai buys the entire group pizza for lunch.
Getting excited to fill your stomach with cheesy pizza goodness loaded with little hamburger patties, mini hot dogs, and lima beans, your Kyodai enters the room with a more stern-than-usual look on his face. “Grab your jackets and smokes you pieces of sh*ts, the Pizza Hut down in Shibuya needs a little ‘visit’.”
Apparently, the Pizza Hut refused to fulfill your big brother’s order due to 1) it being such a large order, and 2) the fairly obvious scary Yakuza dialect used when placing the order over the phone. Two indicators that the store managers were taught to look out for by the police in order to avoid doing business with Yakuza. Sorry, Kitano Takeshi, you won’t be getting your pizza today.
“We don’t know if the address we deliver to is the place of a yakuza,” said the Delivery Business Safety Driving Council. But don’t panic. “One or two pizzas are OK,” the Council said, “but delivering a huge amount of pizza, knowing that the customer is a yakuza is a no-no.” Source
But seriously, though… since when do Yakuza order so much pizza that this becomes part of the local Pizza Place employee training in Japan? Can you imagine how awesome the informational video must be for this?
Yazuka For Life? Hope You Weren’t Expecting Life Insurance With Your Benefits
Although not part of the newly enacted laws (this was just set up because of the laws) the 45-member Life Insurance Association of Japan have began to add cancellation clauses to their life insurance policies in the event the policy holder or any of its beneficiaries are a member of the Yakuza. This includes even post-death life insurance holders. Doesn’t matter if the death was natural or from an infected pinky from yubitsume, the insurance company now has the right to unconditionally cancel the policy.
For the beneficiaries, many of whom may be innocent family members, this puts them in a bind. Even after death the poor, defenseless Yakuza can’t catch a break :( Really, though, if anyone needs life insurance, it’s the family of Yakuza members. You know? So greedy, life insurance providers… so greedy.
I’m sure over the course of the next few weeks, months, or years, Yakuza discrimination will get worse and worse. Things seem to have reached a tipping point where Yakuza control over the government / big corporations have gotten weak enough for everyone to break free without having to worry as much about retribution. It’s a slippery slope, too – these laws won’t be the last we’ll see.