If you were ever curious about the Japanese mafia known as the yakuza, then the “National Geographic Investigates: Crime Lords of Tokyo” program on the NatGeo channel, shown locally in Tampa Bay on Bright House Networks channel 65, will take you there. Just like the National Geographic magazines this investigative program that airs on Fridays at 8 p.m. ET will be equally as graphic and startling like their world famous photographs. The re-enactments of violence are at times difficult to look at. Once you learn about the underbellies of Japanese society you’ll never see it the same again. The irony is the yakuza is not an illegal organization in Japan, only their so-called illicit activities.
“NatGeo Investigates” centers their attention on one yakuza family based in Tokyo who are the Sumiyoshi-kai. They are the second largest crime syndicate in Japan with 6,100 members. The largest yakuza syndicate are the Yamaguchi-gumi with 20,300 members. However, with a grand total of over 80,000 official members in Japan the yakuza are the largest crime organization in the world. To give you an idea of how powerful the yakuza truly are; not even criminals dare commit crimes, because they are like most other Japanese citizens, loathe as well as fear them. Businesses in Japan pay a protection fee to the yakuza to prevent harrassment.
There are various interviews by former members of the yakuza who have lived to tell their story. One of them is Shoko Tendo whose father is a yakuza boss. She has an enormous tattoo on her back that is titled “Prostitute from Hell.” When her father was in debt she was given over to a master as a sex slave in exchange for his debts. Eventually she was able to escape her bondage and became a writer. She’s written a best-selling book titled “Yakuza Moon: Memoirs of a Gangster’s Daughter.” Another one is Tatsuya Shindo who had wrecked his bosses car one night when he was drunk. For his punishment he needed to show atonement and prove his loyalty he had to commit yubitsume. This is their well-known practice of cutting off their finger.
Watching the re-enactment of this finger amputation was too realistic and extremely uncomfortable. Mitsumori Agata is the vice-chairman of the Sumiyoshi-kai organization. He received his tattoo when he was age 30. It looks like he has on a shirt. Agata states the tattoo was so painful he can’t even explain it. Tokyo’s red-light district is called Kabukicho that is part of Shinjuku’s nightlife. Prostitution is illegal in Japan when it is sexual intercourse, but other sex acts are legitimate. The sex trade is one of the yakuza’s most profitable and successful ventures.
Other Facts About the Yakuza
8-9-3 is a significant number to this organization.
Foreigners in Japan who have tattoos cannot enter public bath houses or swimming pools, because of the yakuza also wearing tattoos.
All members and bosses must pay a monthly membership where it all flows upward, like a pyramid scheme, to the top executives.
Yakuza is extremely successful with the sex trade in Japan the U.S. State Department has labeled it “the world’s largest sex trafficking of foreign women.”