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Elijah Davis
Elijah Davis

Yakuza [Extra Quality]

At their height, the yakuza maintained a large presence in the Japanese media and they also operated internationally. At their peak in the early 1960s, police estimated that the yakuza had a membership of more than 200,000.[7] However, this number has drastically dropped, a decline attributed to changing market opportunities and several legal and social developments in Japan which discourage the growth of yakuza membership.[8] The yakuza still regularly engage in an array of criminal activities and many Japanese citizens still remain fearful of the threat these individuals pose to their safety.[9] There remains no strict prohibition on yakuza membership in Japan today, although many pieces of legislation has been passed by the Japanese government aimed at impeding revenue and increasing liability for criminal activities.[9]


The name yakuza originates from the traditional Japanese card game Oicho-Kabu, a game in which the goal is to draw three cards adding up to a score of 9. If the sum of the cards exceeds 10, its second digit is used as the score instead, and if the sum is exactly 10, the score is 0. If the three cards drawn are 8-9-3 (pronounced ya-ku-sa in Japanese), the sum is 20 and therefore the score is zero, making it the worst possible hand that can be drawn.[10][11] In Japanese, the word yakuza is commonly written in katakana (ヤクザ).

Yakuza are regarded as semi-legitimate organizations. For example, immediately after the 1995 Kobe earthquake, the Yamaguchi-gumi yakuza group, who are based in the area, mobilized to provide disaster relief services (including the use of a helicopter). Media reports contrasted this rapid response with the much slower pace at which the Japanese government's official relief efforts took place.[32][33] The Yakuza repeated their aid after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, with groups opening their offices to refugees and sending dozens of trucks with supplies to affected areas (see below).[34] For this reason, many Yakuza regard their income and hustle (shinogi) as a collection of a feudal tax.

The yakuza and its affiliated gangs control drug trafficking in Japan, especially methamphetamine.[35] While many Yakuza syndicates, notably the Yamaguchi-gumi, officially forbid their members from engaging in drug trafficking, some other Yakuza syndicates, like the Dojin-kai, are heavily involved in it.

On August 24, 2021, Nomura Satoru became the first yakuza boss to be sentenced to death. Nomura was involved in one murder and assaults of three people. The presiding judge Adachi Ben of the Fukuoka District Court characterized the murders as extremely vicious attacks.[46]

A 1993 governmental survey found that 45 percent of modern yakuza members had severed finger joints, and that 15 percent had performed the act at least twice.2 Thus, some yakuza members may present with multiple truncated proximal digits. To note, a person who undergoes yubitsume is not necessarily a member of the yakuza. Kirkup5 cites the case of a bankrupt Japanese businessman indebted to a yakuza member, who was assisted by a South Korean doctor in 2005 to remove one of his fingers with a hammer and chisel following administration of an anesthetic.

The pragmatic value of yubitsume to yakuza leaders is that the offending kobun, or soldier, would be viewed as more dependent on protection from his boss, or oyabun.2 Furthermore, he would be more vulnerable, as self-amputation would make hand-to-hand combat and handling firearms more difficult. Thus, yubitsume reflects the requirement of members to abide by a strict code of conduct.

According to interviews with the Japanese National Police Agency, some members use anesthetics to perform yubitsume or go to a hospital to have the severed portion reattached after showing it to their boss.6 Abe et al12 discuss the case of a 51-year-old yakuza member who amputated his left small finger at the distal phalanx and presented to the emergency department. He had swallowed the amputated portion, and his finger was repaired without reattachment of the amputated portion. The patient said he swallowed the severed portion because he was required to prove that he did not intend to reconstruct his finger. Thus, tolerance of reconstruction of the amputated finger varies among different yakuza families.

Known for their striking full-body tattoos and severed fingertips, Japan's gangsters comprise a criminal class eighty thousand strong--more than four times the size of the American mafia. Despite their criminal nature, the yakuza are accepted by fellow Japanese to a degree guaranteed to shock most Westerners. Yakuza is the first book to reveal the extraordinary reach of Japan's Mafia. Originally published in 1986, it was so controversial in Japan that it could not be published there for five years. But in the west it has long served as the standard reference on Japanese organized crime and has inspired novels, screenplays, and criminal investigations. This twenty-fifth anniversary edition tells the full story or Japan's remarkable crime syndicates, from their feudal start as bands of medieval outlaws to their emergence as billion-dollar investors in real estate, big business, art, and more.

The name "yakuza" came from a traditional Japanese card game called Oicho-Kabu, which is esimilar to Baccarat. Like it, the goal of the game is to reach a total of 9, the last digit of any total over 10 makes your hand. note A 15 counts as 5, a 12 as 2, and a 20 as 0. Having two of the same card makes it the card number. note A 10 and a 10 = 10, 1 and a 1 = 1. The worst hand you can get in the game is an eight, a nine and a three, totalling 20 = 0. 8-9-3 is expressed as "ya-ku-za" phonetically in Japanese.

  • Comic Books In the Dark Knight Universe, the Joker was apparently a member (or at the very least bears a tattoo of a large red dragon on his back), as opposed to his usual depiction as having mafia ties. Probably because we already knew about Gotham's mafia (pretty much ripped from The Godfather), and the Joker had to be a wild card. (Hence the name.) The Yakuza are one of the many crime factions in Gotham City in the main DCU.

  • They have grown into almost a symbiotic relationship with the Judges of Hondo Cit in Judge Dredd, both hating but ultimately having to relay on the other.

  • The King of Hell's Kitchen has a yakuza group hopped on MGH trying to take Hell's Kitchen for them after the fall of the Kingpin. In this story, the Yakuza are played like a bunch of greedy thugs with tattoos and katanas. Daredevil wasn't amused.

  • The Yakuza exist in the Marvel Universe, but just as the Mafia takes a backseat to the Maggia so too does the Yakuza take a backseat to fictional Japanese underworld groups such as Clan Yashida and The Hand. The most prominent Yakuza members in the MU are members of Clan Yashida, and unsurprisingly they usually clash with Wolverine.

  • In Nikolai Dante, just as mafiya families reinstated Imperial Russia, so a yakuza network known as Black Dragon took over Japan and most of the Pacific Rim. They were a significant threat to Russia, until much of their territory was destroyed in a catastrophe that Tsar Vladimir totally had nothing to do with, honest.

  • Fan Fiction Megami no Hanabira: The Yakuza appear as the Chaos-aligned faction in the story, lead by a man of undisclosed rank named Shusui Naito. Their aim is to spread the Demon Summoning Program outside the city for the sake of empowering the underclass as part of a deranged, White Guilt-ridden scheme by their leader.

  • Digimon: Children of Time: As revealed in Children of the Present, Ryo Akiyama is the heir to a yakuza group, and Rika's grandmother Seiko was once a mob wife.

  • In Kyon: Big Damn Hero the Organization is funded mainly by this, and also it's the background of Tsuruya's family.

  • The Prince by Neverending Odyssey is a Death Note AU where Light Yagami is kidnapped by the Yakuza when he's eleven years old and this harsher upbringing ironically results in him being much more merciful and careful when he adopts his Kira persona.

  • In Hetalia: Axis Powers Dark Fics, it's not uncommon to have Kiku aka Japan directly involved with the Yakuza. ... Uhm.

  • In 893 Harry Potter is raised by the Yakuza and so becomes a very independent, badass Professional Killer.

  • In Neon Metathesis Evangelion, the local yakuza begins to beat down whatever NERV employee they can find in the seedier parts of town in order to teach NERV a lesson about their arrogance after Toji is injured while piloting an Evangelion, which his father the local oyabun took personally.

  • Jokingly referenced at one point in Doing It Right This Time, when Hikari's father makes a comment about Toji's dad "...missing a suspicious number of fingers", to which Hikari rather crossly retorts that the man is actually a carpenter who injured his hand in a workplace accident.

  • In Ranma Saotome, Chi Master, Qiáng Wang manages to gain control over a yakuza group based out of an area close to Nerima by killing its leader.

  • The Horsewomen Of Las Vegas features the Yakuza as one of the crime organizations in the story. They are run by Antonio Inoki in the story, but he does not appear. Instead, the Yakuza are represented by two of his top, personally-trained capos, Asuka and Shinsuke Nakamura.

  • Professional Wrestling Even although TV stations don't always refer to him by the Y-word, this is Masahiro Chono's whole gimmick, which some have alleged is not really a gimmick at all seeing as no yakuza has ever attempted retribution on him for misrepresenting their company. Chono is in fact many a yakuza's favorite wrestler for his impeccable dress, speed, agility, and "Yakuza Kick" Finishing Move. Videos of his matches have reportedly been used by correctional officers in an effort to steer violent criminals towards athletics.

  • Yoshiaki Fujiwara likes to style himself as a Yakuza, to the point he founded a promotion named Fyjiwara Gumi (gumi being the term commonly used for Yakuza organizations).

  • TARU used to play a Yakuza-style character in his times as the manager of the Crazy MAX stable. Even after he switched to a more occult-influenced character as part of the Voodoo Murders, he has still retained traits, like the tattoos, mannerisms, and well tailored suits whenever not wrestling. Like Chono, though, it's unclear whether this is merely a character or there is something more behind, especially because before becoming a pro wrestler, Taru was a karate master of a brand very popular among real Yakuzas.

  • A master martial artist Masked Luchador working primarily in AULL is known as Yakuza. Frequent seekers of his services include Robin Maravilla, El Psicópata, Rocky Santana, Sadico, Último Gladiador and Terry Dos Mil though given this is lucha libre, they typically want help winning AULL's trios titles, rather than anything typically associated with other Yakuza.

  • In WWE, Yoshihiro Tajiri was given a Yakuza-themed gimmick as part of the Kyo Dai faction in the early 2000s. However the faction was short-lived because Tajiri said that the real Yakuza might start becoming insulted by the portrayal and enact legitimate retribution.

  • In Asistencia Asesoría y Administración, Kenzo Suzuki led a stable completely devoted to the theme, the aptly named La Yakuza. The storyline was that Suzuki was being secretly supported by the real life yakuza in order to start a Japanese invasion of AAA, which would take the form of guest Japanese wrestlers showing up as members of the group. The whole angle was short-lived, though, and only lasted some months.



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