It’s a shame George Carlin is gone. When he joked that there’s a magazine for every activity with five participants, I don’t think even he could’ve envisioned this one.
Organised rhyme: Yakuza crime gang releases poetry mag
JAPAN’S top organised crime group has released a members’ magazine – featuring a poetry page and fishing diaries.
The publication has been distributed among the infamous Yakuza – believed to have about 27,700 members, in a bid to strengthen unity in the group, Japanese media reported.
The magazine – named “Yamaguchi-gumi Shinpo” – has an entertainment section detailing fishing trips by top officials, along with satirical haiku – a traditional Japanese form of poetry – and pieces on the board games.
The front page carries a first person piece by the group’s leader, Kenichi Shinoda, instructing younger members in the values and disciplines they should observe.
Shinoda writes that times have become hard for Japan’s mafia and that they can no longer rely on their “brand” to generate profitability in their operations, the Mainichi Shimbun said.
The number of Yakuza has declined in recent years, standing at 63,200 in late 2012, down 7,100 on the year before, according to the National Police Agency.
The Yamaguchi-gumi makes up more than 40 per cent of the nation’s organised criminals, but it lost 3,300 members in 2012, the agency said.
Like the Italian mafia or Chinese triads, the Yakuza engages in activities from gambling, drugs and prostitution to loan sharking, protection rackets, white-collar crime and business conducted through front companies.
The gangs, which are not illegal, have historically been tolerated by the authorities, although there are periodic clampdowns on some of their less savoury activities.
The Yakuza are heavily mythologised in Japan, with films, television dramas and fan magazines glamorising lives of stylised violence that are governed by a samurai code of honour.
Observers say the reality of the criminal underworld is one of brutishness and risk, where only a few achieve the wealth and standing to which they aspire.