Have you ever wondered what the most violent gang in the world is? If you have ever read about Yakuza history, then you probably have at least an idea. The Yakuza account for a significant portion of Japan’s murders every year. These are the 25 Most Shocking Yakuza Crimes.
The famous Japanese film maker messed up when he made a movie depicting the Yakuza as dumb brutes. Several years later, he apparently committed suicide by jumping from a building. According to some sources though, he was given the choice to either jump or get a bullet in the brain.
To give you an idea of the Yakuza’s reach, there was at least one gang member arrested for attempted bribery and drug smuggling in North Korea. Not even the Mafia messes with that!
The Drug and Gun Trade
By using Hawaii as a stop off point, the Yakuza have managed to establish a large and lucrative guns-for-drugs trade between Japanese and American gangs.
If you had to guess what the Yakuza’s weapon of choice was, what would you wager? Did you guess pineapples? Because that’s right! Alright, so not the edible kind. Pineapple is slang for grenade…and the Yakuza use them quite liberally.
Not only did the authorities discover that the Yakuza were fixing wrestling matches, they were also getting front row seats for themselves. The strangest part, however, was the reason…they wanted to boost the morale of their fellow gang members in jail by being seen on TV.
According to government data, more than 11% of companies in Japan have been threatened by the Yakuza or asked to pay them money.
The Fishing Village
Even if you have nothing to do with the Yakuza, it doesn’t mean you’re not in danger. In 2013, the Kudo-kai family started attacking and killing members of a fishing cooperative in the Japanese coastal village of Fukuoka. Apparently at least some of the murders were motivated by trivial exchanges at local businesses.
Wataru ‘Jackson’ Inada
Wataru is the main man behind the Yakuza expansion into the US. In 1976, he was arrested and expected to testify against some of his fellow gang members. Not long before the trial, Wataru and his girlfriend were found dead in a Honolulu apartment.
The most shocking part of this crime is the amount of money the Yakuza managed to get out of the ATM’s. In 2016, police determined that the gang had withdrawn 1.8 billion yen from a bank in South Africa via more than 1,400 ATM’s.
Although Takumi was meant to assume a leadership position within the Yakuza, he was gunned down (along with an innocent bystander) before it ever came to pass. Apparently some gang members were mad that he had tried to make peace with a rival gang. In the Yakuza world…nice guys finish dead.
Although it’s not a crime in the typical sense, Yakuza boss Tadamasa Goto apparently received a visa from the FBI in exchange for information. What did he use the visa for? To get a liver transplant in Los Angeles. The craziest part? 186 people died in LA that year while waiting for a liver transplant while a Yakuza crime boss skipped straight to the front of the line.
Just one among many, Marcela was a mother from Colombia who was promised a job as a dancer in Japan. She was told that it would allow her family to escape poverty. Her dreams were shattered upon arrival, and she spent 2 years as little more than a Yakuza sex slave. She eventually escaped and sought refuge at the Colombian embassy.
The Murder of Ryoichi Sugiura
A senior Yakuza gang member, Ryoichi was shot three times through the glass of his limousine. This murder threatened to create a turf war between rival Yakuza factions. Fortunately, police were able to contain the fallout.
Shinzo Abe is the current Prime Minister of Japan. Before coming into that position, his house was attacked several times with molotov cocktails.
The Yakuza has been known to threaten financial institutions for inside information. In fact, crime reporter Jake Adelstein even described them as Goldman Sachs with guns.
Masao Higa And Shokichi Haine
In a case of mistaken identity, these two police officers were gunned down by several Yakuza who were on the prowl for enemy gang members. (Apparently the police were just sitting in their car minding their own business.) Perhaps not surprisingly, only one of the shooters was ever convicted.
In 2015, gang leader Tatsuyuki Hishida was found bludgeoned to death in his home. He had been beaten repeatedly with a blunt object. Nobody was arrested, but police believe it was due to a turf war between rival factions.
Remember the guy who was getting liver surgery in LA? Tadamasa Goto? Well while he was busy line jumping in California, his cronies were doing some nasty stuff even by Yakuza standards…killing civilians. Kazuoki Nozaki, a real estate consultant, was stabbed to death in the middle of a Tokyo street in 2006.
Attacking the homes of important people with grenades seems to be a popular pastime among the Yakuza. Both the presidents of Kyushu Electric and Saibu Gas had their houses grenaded.
The Murdered Mayor
Iccho Itoh, the mayor of Nagasaki, was gunned downed by a Yakuza who later claimed he was “angry at the city because his car had been damaged by a speed bump.”
According to the Daily Beast, the 2020 Olympics are still several years away. However, the Yakuza are already busy ensuring a solid foundation of corruption and extortion.
Since dog fighting is legal in Japan, the Yakuza make sure to capitalize. They even breed some of the most vicious fighting dogs in the world…the tosa. Tosas are a type of mastiff. (They’re banned in numerous countries around the world.)
The Dojin-Seido War
This brutal turf war within the Yakuza lasted several years and accounted for the majority of violent deaths in Japan between 2006 and 2013. It ended when both sides went to a local police department and declared a truce.
This 70 year old man was gunned down by the Kudo-kai (an extremely violent Yakuza branch) because he wouldn’t give the Yakuza preference in public works projects.
The Yama–Ichi War
To this day, the Yama-Ichi turf war of 1985 to 1989 remains the most violent Yakuza war in Japanese history. It was so bloody that local newspapers even started keeping “score cards” (basically death counts).
Photos: Featured Image: pixabay (public domain), 25. en.wikipedia.com (fair use: illustrative purposes only; no free source available.), 24-22. pixabay.com (public domain), 21. Nakatani YOshifumi, Sumo wrestler in Japan 片山信次 (2878963194), CC BY 2.0, 20. pexels (public domain), 19. Carlj7 (talk) (Uploads), Toyama-Fukuoka-Train, CC BY-SA 3.0, 18. Hakilon, Blick auf Honolulu, CC BY 3.0, 17. pixabay (public domain), 16. en.wikipedia.com (fair use: illustrative purposes only; no free source available.), 15. pixabay (public domain), 14. mrhayata via flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, 13. Mr.choppers, 2010 DTS limo (Superior), CC BY-SA 3.0, 12. Wikimedia commons (public domain), 11-8. pixabay (public domain), 7. publicdomainpictures.net, (public domain), 6. Marine-Blue, Tomb of Iccho Itoh, CC BY-SA 4.0, 5. publicdomainpictures.net, 4. Erick Drumss Hernández, Tosa inu, CC BY-SA 4.0, 3. Blue_flag_waving.svg: Viktorvoigt derivative work: Dove (talk), White flag waving, CC BY-SA 3.0, 2-1. pixabay (public domain)