There are some other interesting sidenotes in the book though: The japanese police not only having long shown an attitude of indifference as well as incompetence and even cooperation with the Yakuza, but also displaying direct sympathies to them as the "weeding out process" of leftists within the police hiring process gives it a very rightist outlook which probably accounts for the xenophobic attitude and famously anti-immigrant violence the japanese police often indulges in. Additionaly, the japanese justice system ranks amongst the most backwards in the developed world, with most cases being solved by having confessions essentialy tortured out of suspects.
But what also feeds into the mob power is the extreme xenophobia displayed in japanese society towards Koreans and 'Burakumin', who face strong discrimination that accounts for the disproportionate amount of them hired by the Yakuza, and opens up a market for human trafficking and sex slavery. The book is fantastic and very recommended to everyone fascinated by organised crime or even with just an interest in the country, since it colors a picture of Japan extremely divergent from the standard.
I'll close this review by pointing out that the deceased mobster Ryoichi Sasakawa sponsored a statue of himself carrying his sick mother on his back. He also founded the "Sasakawa Peace Foundation" among others. What none of those acknowledge, though, is that he also liked to call himself "the world's wealthiest fascist.
View all 7 comments. Sep 25, Patrick McCoy rated it really liked it Shelves: non-fiction , japan. I have to say that I found David E. The book is framed in relation to what was seen as a growing yakuza threat in America, which I suspect has faded as the bubble has burst and Japan has stagnated. It's fascinating to see how they evolved from professional gamblers who were trying to recoup salaries from landowners through gambling in the early days to running in I have to say that I found David E.
It's fascinating to see how they evolved from professional gamblers who were trying to recoup salaries from landowners through gambling in the early days to running insider trading and money laundering. I find it disturbing that during the Occupation and for many years after yakuza right wing groups were supported by the US government to fight communist groups in Japan during the cold war era. Then again the US got in bed with many despicable characters during this period in the name of fighting communism.
Then there was the Lockheed scandal in which the company used right wing mob connections to secure contracts from the Japanese government. Furthermore, businesses used the yakuza as strike breakers and later to intimidate and break up shareholder meetings to avoid owning up to misdeeds like in the case of the Miamata poisoning, Chisso used thugs to prevent the victims from getting compensation and an official apology-just disgusting behavior from the corporations.
Japan is famous for it's safe, crime-free society. But, as this book proves, there must be a pervasive acceptance of crime and corruption for groups like the yakuza to become so entrenched in the society up to the highest levels of commerce and sometimes government. I guess the yakuza sometimes were seen as a policing force, but there dabbling in the meth trade, child pornography, extortion, sexual slavery, and other shameless criminal activities make them societies scourge and parasites. It's easy to see why some directors like Kurosawa and Itami wanted to satirize them for their evil ways.
I found this to be a fascinating book that is probably overly academic and extremely well-researched and perhaps slightly out-of-date. Jake Adelstein seems to be on his way to bringing the world up to date on the yakuza activities that are dropped off from in the late 90s and early 00s in this book with books like his latest Tokyo Vice. May 24, C. Phipps rated it really liked it Shelves: nonfiction. The Yakuza are one of the most fascinating criminal organizations in the world. Authors David E. Kaplan and Alec Dubro work to sort the fact from the fiction. Separating the lies that they're the descendants of exiled samurai from their true origins as gambler groups working with street peddlers that became incredibly powerful post-Mejii Restoration.
The Yakuza have a shocking history that includes the fact they've militarized numerous time and become Far Right paramilitary organizations while s The Yakuza are one of the most fascinating criminal organizations in the world. Rather offhandedly, the authors mention how the Yakuza sent a bunch of ninja-trained soldiers to kill the Queen of Korea.
I had to double-check this one to make sure it was correct. They were also responsible for countless assassinations of public officials that helped the rise of Imperial Japan. The biggest flaw of Yakuza: Japan's Criminal Underworld is the fact the text is surprisingly on the dry side.
The pair of authors mostly document the systematic web of corruption the Yakuza have managed to weave around Japan's corporations, government, and public. The Yakuza keep crime in Japan organized and out of sight in a way that, ironically, that makes it very public.
Yakuza openly wear badges of their status though many executives forgo the extensive tattooing that mark their allegiance , advertise their organization's buildings with signs, and can be found in the phone book. The book details many of the shockingly corrupt business practices that leave them with a big chunk of the country's entertainment industry, construction, and loan firms.
Ultimately, the book suffers a bit for the fact that it would have been more interesting to get into nitty-gritty of Yakuza interior culture separate from the mostly-chronological story of their biggest scandals as well as activities from the beginning of their modern incarnation to the present day. As such, this book isn't quite as flashy as it could have been. On the other hand, you can tell a book is worthwhile by the fact the Yakuza both simultaneously participated in the creation of it as well as pressured companies not to release its contents due to the naming of names as well as revelation of the fact the Yakuza had so many minority members which is a open secret of all things.
This was an incredible piece of investigative work, and it's nothing short of a textbook on yakuza. Tokyo Vice gives me the media's perspective. Confessions of a Yakuza gives me a yakuza's perspective. I'm still missing the perspective of the police , though, if anyone has suggestions. Jun 11, Shernoff rated it really liked it. Sep 16, Chris Doherty rated it it was amazing Shelves: japanese-history , asian-history. This book is amazing. The corruption in Japan is unfathomable! My view of Japan has changed after having read this book. Not finished yet, but the extent of the influence of the Yakuza is chillingly horrific!
How can one of the world's leading economic powerhouses allow itself to be intimidated by criminals? View 1 comment. Nov 16, Michael Blackmer rated it really liked it Shelves: japan-challenge Yakuza is basically written as a textbook. It surveys the last three hundred years of the Japanese underworld groups known as the Yakuza. It is amazing to see how, for a good portion of their history, the Yakuza have been an accepted part of doing business in Japanese culture.
At times they have worked alongside of sitting political leaders to help accomplish the goals of government. Many of the participants in the 's were actually war criminals, yet the US government occupation forces made Yakuza is basically written as a textbook. Many of the participants in the 's were actually war criminals, yet the US government occupation forces made use of many of these men to spy on the Communists and for other tasks. At times even knowing these were Yakuza members people of a criminal nature the US military and intelligence agencies still worked with them and even hired them to undertake specific tasks.
The Yakuza were used to keep the docks working which helped to entrench them on the waterfront. They entered into shipping and transportation investments which enabled them to move many illicit goods. They were strikebreakers often hired by the sitting Japanese government. Their involvement follows the broad range of crimes including drug trafficking, human trafficking, smuggling, running guns, extortion, fraud of all kinds.
May of the properties purchased abroad by Japanese investors and companies have had some form of underworld involvement when they were not outright purchases of the Yakuza. I enjoyed this read as a learning experience but like I say it is a textbook written for college classrooms. My interest in the subject has been sparked by various television shows that have referenced these groups. View 2 comments. Dec 15, Stefanie rated it it was ok. It's loaded with thorough information and good investigative reporting. However, as a book, I could barely keep up with it.
I often drifted away during the several chapters regarding Japanese rightist politics, because I'm not familiar with it in the least. However, I was deeply intrigued with the first pages that detailed the historic beginnings of the Japanese yakuza and how they were romanticized and may still be in Japanese society. Additionally, it was informative to read about yakuza's recent changes as they go abroad towards international markets. However, it would have been wise of me to keep a detailed list of all these names since the reporting is immensely detailed.
Seller Inventory P Kaplan and Alec Dubro spent nearly two decades conducting hundreds of interviews with everyone from street-level hoodlums and police to Japan's most powerful godfathers. For example, Yoshinori Watanabe headed the Yamaguchi-gumi fifth ; on his retirement, Shinobu Tsukasa became head of the Yamaguchi-gumi sixth , and "Yamaguchi-gumi VI" is the group's formal name. Stock Image. They act and talk like businessmen, and look the part wearing high-collared shirts with long-sleeves.
In the end, this is seemingly an academic read for those interested in Japanese politics. Unfortunately, I learned so much about yakuza from this book, that I can't even remember most of it. May 30, Daniela Celhay rated it it was ok. The book lays down the basics on the subject of Yakuza. The first chapters are the most interesting because it explains how these groups always took part in Japanese society.
The importance of Giri and Ninjo: the social behaviour or mentality that binds Japanese culture together. Strong sense of duty and "saving face. The importance of "saving face" or mantaining a reputation and apologies; resolving dispute The book lays down the basics on the subject of Yakuza. The importance of "saving face" or mantaining a reputation and apologies; resolving disputes outside the police creates fertile ground for more sophisticated crimes like blackmail or bribery. Yakuza groups are very versatile and deeply intergrated in plenty Japanese companies, businesses, loan companies and others.
Jan 25, Danata rated it it was amazing. A real eye-opener when it comes to Japanese political and economic corruption. Read this, and yakuza will no longer be "funny men" with missing pinkies: these "funny" men are a dangerous force to face even in this century. Jan 15, Sarah Crawford rated it really liked it.
The Yakuza are involved in a number of areas such as prostitution, pornography, drugs, gambling, loan-sharking, trucking, smuggling, extortion, and the construction and entertainment industries. They are also not just in Japan, but have become involved in Hawaii and California. The Yakuza is also inter-twined with the right-wing movement in Japan. The book goes into the very early origins of the Yakuza movement, going all the way back to samurai who became bandits.
There were also groups in towns The Yakuza are involved in a number of areas such as prostitution, pornography, drugs, gambling, loan-sharking, trucking, smuggling, extortion, and the construction and entertainment industries. There were also groups in towns that would band together to fight against these samurai and ended up establishing gangs of their own and Yakuza methodologies. The author says the true ancestors of the Yakuza were the bakuto, or traditional gamblers, and the tekiya, or street peddlers.
Over time the mafia-like organizational structure of the Yakuza was established. The tekiya attracted various misfits, as did the bakuto, but they also attracted the burakumin, the Japanese outcast class of people. The term 'yakuza' may come from the gambling groups. In one of the games, a score of is the worst one possible. In Japanese, that translates into ya-ku-sa, which then became yakuza. The author then goes into the various forms of punishments the groups used on members who misbehaved, and notes the origin of the cutting off of a part of the pinkie finger as one of these methods.
Tattooing and its relationship to the Yakuza is also discussed. As Japan modernized, so did the yakuza, spreading their influence to new fields. They also became involved with the growing Japanese militarist movement. A great deal of the development came during the period of American occupation of Japan after the close of World War II.
They became involved in stopping Koreans, Chinese and Taiwanese who had been brought to Japan basically as slave labor, and who were taking their anger out after the war by attacking Japanese. They could restore order when the regular police couldn't. During the occupation, the Yakuza became involved in the black market enterprises, which were numerous.
Eventually, though, they moved out of the black market into other areas that were considered luxuries. This included drugs and prostitution. The occupation also caused the Yakuza to begin to appear different, more like the American mafia groups. This included a growth in the size of the gangs and their structure.
The author cites the Yakuza laws: 1. Never reveal the secrets of the organization.
Never violate the wife or children of another member. No personal involvement with narcotics. Do not withhold money from the gang 4 Do not fail in obedience to superiors. The author includes a listing of the major Yakuza groups as of , along with their address, their leader, and their membership.
The relationship between Japanese police and the Yakuza is discussed, and how some police sort of support the Yakuza due to their linking with right-wing groups. In an odd way they actually help police, since they represent organized crime and they tend to stop much unorganized crime which is harder to solve, basically from happening. It's kind of like dealing with the devil you know rather than the devil you don't know from the viewpoint of the police. The author also raises questions about the crime rates that are reported for Japan, and the successful prosecution rate.
Yakuza involved in 'sex tours' is also covered. These are, by the way, just the highlights of this very complete, very well-done examination of the Yakuza. Sep 08, Nicole rated it liked it Shelves: nonfiction , japan. A bit dry for a book about the Yakuza, which I think would make for fascinating reading. Alas, the fault is mine, I believe. What I would have found exciting would have been a book drawing heavily on the field of cultural anthropology, and a quick perusal of the authors' qualifications would have told me that they are investigative journalists - good ones even, with a lot of research - but that doesn't change the fact that we are interested in two different things.
This book focused a lot so it A bit dry for a book about the Yakuza, which I think would make for fascinating reading.
This book focused a lot so it seemed to me on why the Yakuza is bad. Now, don't get me wrong. I don't believe that they are a bunch of misunderstood Robin Hoods. Still, I wanted to know more of just what they are, why they are, who they are. I got tastes of these, but usually on in between long stories about very specific mobsters doing illegal activities that aren't always entertaining to read about. David E. Kaplan and Alec Dubro spent nearly two decades conducting hundreds of interviewswith everyone from street-level hoodlums and police to Japan's most powerfulgodfathers.
The result is a searing indictment of corruption in the world'ssecond-largest economy. This updated, expanded, and thoroughly revised edition of Yakuza tells the full storyof Japan's remarkable crime syndicates, from their feudal start as bands of medievaloutlaws to their emergence as billion-dollar investors in real estate, big business, art,and more.
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