9 Dec 2015

Sex, tea, blood, corruption and the far Right in Japan

There is, presently, a yakuza war underway in Japan. It involves conflicting factions within the biggest yakuza organisation, the Yamaguchi-gumi. One of them is called the Kodo-kai.

The Yamaguchi-gumi control over half of organised criminal activity in Japan - and bear in mind that the yakuza are many times the size of the American mafia. They rate, arguably, among the top three organised crime groups in the world.

Japan, with its blood nationalist conservatives - the Abe administration - in power, and article 9 of the constitution forbidding overseas military engagements under review, is at a delicate moment in its post war history. The children of the bubble economy have grown up a lost generation over decades of economic stagnancy. Nuclear fear is on the horizon. China is rattling sabres. North Korea is ever on the edge. There are many who worry about the future.

Political power in Japan has ever been infiltrated by the yakuza, since their modern rebirth as de facto agents of the occupation forces in the early post war years, enforcing anti-communist directives on Japan's waterfronts.

Amongst my reading... I found myself grimacing at this:

"... behind closed doors, the Yamaguchi-gumi and the Abe administration maintain some strange ties.
One yakuza associate who helped fund the Kodo-kai's successful sex shop empire also founded a political support group for Hakubun Shimomura, Japan's minister of education and science.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that Shimomura had received political donations from a Yamaguchi-gumi front company, and that he was closely connected to a mob financier.
Shimomura is best known in Japan for promoting "moral education" "


Shimomura is also associated with Nippon Kaigi. This is an organisation that rewrites history and wants to recreate an aggressively nationalistic Japan. They enjoy special advisory status under the Abe administration.

If Nippon Kaigi were American, or Australian, they'd be regarded as neo-Nazis.

Somehow this escapes headline news for us, most of the time.

Japan has a strong liberal and intellectual core of decency. But they're the quiet ones. I hope they're up to the challenge.


  1. I thought I had seen somewhere awhile ago that the yakuza had lost a lot of power. Guess not. Interesting post, Magpie.

    And Japan has been one of the most interesting countries anywhere since forever. I see why you follow happenings there.

    1. I really appreciate you commenting on this one, Kevin.

      I’m usually a bit conflicted about how much to write about Japan....

      More than a little and no-one will read it. Japanese affairs are too remote for a lot of people – they see the country through the lens of other issues, and they are comfortable with their settled perception.
      On the other hand a post like this feels like one small corner of a photograph that fell out of an album. There’s this whole other world I want to describe, but I don’t have the space.