Hard times for the Yakuza

Life as a Japanese “yakuza” mobster is getting so tough that some are resorting to shoplifting food to remain in business.

Two members of an organised crime gang were detained for allegedly trying to steal grocery store items worth 76,120 yen ($683) at a mall in the central Japanese city of Nagoya, authorities told AFP on Wednesday.

“They are members of an affiliated gang group of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi,” a police spokesman said, referring to an organisation that split off from the country’s largest yakuza crime syndicate, Yamaguchi-gumi, in 2015.

The gangsters, aged 59 and 52, allegedly tried to steal 198 items including eel, rice, a watermelon, and prepared dishes, in the business of their gang boss, the Asahi and Mainichi dailies reported.

Among the guys told authorities that “the group is so poor” members must steal food, the Mainichi said.

Japan’s yakuza blossomed from the turmoil of post-war Japan into multi-billion-dollar criminal organisations involved in everything from gambling, drugs and prostitution to loan sharking, protection rackets and white-collar crime.


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