F_0020458_17220 - REP RTAGE Jake Adelstein a writer based in Tokyo was a reporter for 12 years at the Yomiuri Shimbun Japans largest newspaper and

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63 TOKYO—In June 2007, as Japan’s upper house elections were drawing near, the na- tion’s largest organized crime group—the 40,000 member Yamaguchi-gumi—decided to throw its support behind the country’s second leading political party, the Demo- cratic Party of Japan ( DPJ ). Fifteen of the Ya- maguchi-gumi’s top-ranking members made the decision behind closed doors. After the die was cast, a meeting was convened at the sprawling Yamaguchi-gumi headquarters, which take up two square blocks in Kobe. The gang’s most powerful executive mem- bers, the jikisan , were summoned from throughout Japan and ordered to put their full support behind the DPJ . The message was simple. “We’ve worked out a deal with a senior member of the DPJ . We help them get elected and they keep a criminal con- spiracy law, the kyobozai , off the books for a few more years,” one insider said. The next month, calls went out from Yamaguchi-gu- mi headquarters to the heads of each local branch across the country. In Tokyo, even the conservative boss Goto Tadamasa, leader of the 1,000 strong Yamaguchi-gumi unit called the Goto-gumi, told his people, “We’re backing DPJ . Whatever resources you have available to help the local DPJ represen- tative win, put them to work.” Bosses of the Inagawa-kai, Japan’s third largest organized crime group (10,000 members), met in an entertainment complex they own in Yoko- hama, and announced to board members that the Inagawa-kai would support DPJ as well. At the same time, the yakuza allegedly struck a deal with Mindan and Chosen- soren— political and social organizations that lobby for the rights and interests of Japanese of Korean descent—to support the DPJ . Party leaders, in turn, promised both groups that they would strive to get Japan- ese-Koreans with permanent residence equal voting rights when they took office. Accord- ing to the National Police Agency [ NPA ], of the more than 86,000 yakuza members in Japan, a third are of Korean descent. An Unprecedented Deal For decades, Japan’s vast, homegrown mafia network has exercised powerful control over the inner workings of domestic politics. With antecedents as far back as the early Tokugawa period in the seventeenth centu- ry, today’s yakuza came of age after World War II, calling themselves ninkyo dantai , or chivalrous organizations. Japan’s longest rul- ing party, the Liberal Democratic Party ( LDP ), has dominated Japanese politics since it was founded at the same time. The LDP couldn’t have existed without the financial Jake Adelstein, a writer based in Tokyo, was a reporter for 12 years at the Yomiuri Shimbun , Japan’s largest newspaper, and later served as the chief investigator for a U.S. State Department-sponsored study of human trafficking in Japan. His most recent book is Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan (Vintage-Anchor Books, 2010). His second book,
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course POLS 494 taught by Professor Garymoncrief during the Fall '11 term at Boise State.

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F_0020458_17220 - REP RTAGE Jake Adelstein a writer based in Tokyo was a reporter for 12 years at the Yomiuri Shimbun Japans largest newspaper and

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