Saturday, May 02, 2009

Are the Yakuza an Easy Mark or What?

Japanese electoral politics has been boiled down to one thing—the Ozawa deathwatch. All else, barring unforeseen events, has become trivialized. In the meantime…
According to a couple of media reports, on July 7 last year, the day of the Japanese Star Festival Tanabata, a heartless plumber and four of his meanie drinking pals ganged up on a senior official in the yakuza group Kyokuto-kai and a couple of his assistants who were peacefully working a food stall at—where else?—a Tanabata Festival. Armed with a fake 8-inch sword, a cooking knife, and two police batons, the amateur gang of five took only two hours to convince the yakuza to hand over 800,000 yen in sales and sign a note promising to pay another 500,00 yen. They believed that a yakuza would never file a complaint with the police and continued harassing him, issuing threats of harm to his family. The pressure apparently got so great that the yakuza did go to the police later in the month. Today, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Agency announced that it had finally cracked the case and arrested the five men.

It took almost ten months, but justice has come, once again, to the rescue of the weak and downtrodden. Hooray.

4 comments:

Janne Morén said...

I just have to wonder, with all the major negatives of belonging to a crime syndicate (and thus being shut out of a lot of society), isn't the major positive supposed to be that your group/gang/posse/shoal/girl scout troop stands up for you? If you have to go to the police when people are being mean to you then, well, whats the point?

Unless, of course, the Kyouku-to kai and the Tokyo Metropolitan police are a lot closer than their respective job titles would lead one to believe. It's something cultural, probably.

Jun Okumura said...

Frankly, Janne, I’m mystified. It could be that a yakuza acts like any law-abiding citizen when he’s the victim of common crime. As Japan’s largest association of tekiya (的屋; vendors and food stall operators at festivals. The dictionary explanation of tekiya as a “crooker peddler” is a little too judgmental and most likely reflects the prejudice of Meiji-era lexicographers), the Kyokuto-kai may be reluctant to extend strong-arm tactics beyond settling disputes among its members and employees and fighting turf battles with other tekiya associations. Since the tekiya operations themselves are perfectly legitimate, perhaps the Kyokuto-kai or the aging yakuza himself decided that the smart thing to do was to let the police handle this one. Also, one of the five amateur hoodlums reportedly used to hang out at the yakuza office, so there might have been more going on here than met the eye.

Incidentally, if you can read Japanese, here is a peek into life as a tekiya under the wings of the Kokuto-kai by a freelance writer. It does shed some light on the relationship between law and the yakuza as a tekiya organization.

Benjamin said...

Hey Jun, do you have the links to the source for this? I'd love to read it.

Jun Okumura said...

Here you are, Benjamin.
http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0502/TKY200905020099.html
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/affairs/crime/090502/crm0905021231012-n1.htm
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/news/20090502-OYT1T00715.htm?from=main3