Yakuza (ヤクザ?, [jaꜜkuza]), also known as gokudō (極道?), are members of transnational organized crime syndicates originating in Japan. The Japanese police, and media by request of the police, call them bōryokudan (暴力団?, “violent groups”), while the yakuza call themselves “ninkyō dantai” (任侠団体 or 仁侠団体?, “chivalrous organizations”). The yakuza are notorious for their strict codes of conduct and organized fiefdom-nature. They have a large presence in the Japanese media and operate internationally with an estimated 102,000 members
Four largest syndicates
Although yakuza membership has declined following an anti-gang law aimed specifically at yakuza and passed by the Japanese government in 1992, there are thought to be more than 58,000 active yakuza members in Japan today. Although there are many different yakuza groups, together they form the largest organized crime group in the world.
|Principal families||Description||Mon (crest)|
|Yamaguchi-gumi (六代目山口組 Rokudaime Yamaguchi-gumi?)||The Yamaguchi-gumi is the biggest yakuza family, accounting for 50% of all yakuza in Japan, with more than 55,000 members divided into 850 clans. Despite more than one decade of police repression, the Yamaguchi-gumi has continued to grow. From its headquarters in Kobe, it directs criminal activities throughout Japan. It is also involved in operations in Asia and the United States. Shinobu Tsukasa, also known as Kenichi Shinoda, is the Yamaguchi-gumi’s current oyabun. He follows an expansionist policy, and has increased operations in Tokyo (which has not traditionally been the territory of the Yamaguchi-gumi.)The Yamaguchi family is successful to the point where its name has become synonymous with Japanese organized crime in many parts of Asia outside Japan. Many Chinese or Korean persons who do not know the name “Yakuza” would know the name “Yamaguchi-gumi”, which is frequently portrayed in gangster films.||“Yamabishi” (山菱)|
|Sumiyoshi-kai (住吉会?)||The Sumiyoshi-kai is the second largest yakuza family, with 20,000 members divided into 277 clans. Sumiyoshi-kai is a confederation of smaller yakuza groups. Its current head (会長 oyabun) is Isao Seki. Structurally, Sumiyoshi-kai differs from its principal rival, the Yamaguchi-gumi, in that it functions like a federation. The chain of command is more lax, and although Shigeo Nishiguchi is always the supreme oyabun, its leadership is distributed among several other people.|
|Inagawa-kai (稲川会?)||The Inagawa-kai is the third largest yakuza family in Japan, with roughly 15,000 members divided into 313 clans. It is based in the Tokyo-Yokohama area and was one of the first yakuza families to expand its operations to outside Japan. Its current oyabun is Kiyota Jiro.|
|Aizukotetsu-kai (六代目会津小鉄会?)||The Aizukotetsu-kai is the fourth largest yakuza family in Japan, with roughly 7,000 members. Rather than a stand-alone gang, the Aizukotetsu-kai is a federation of approximately 100 of Kyoto’s various yakuza groups. Its name comes from the Aizu region, “Kotetsu”, a type of Japanese sword. Its main base is in Kyoto.|
A designated boryokudan (指定暴力団 Shitei Bōryokudan?) is a “particularly harmful” yakuza group registered by the Prefectural Public Safety Commissions under the Organized Crime Countermeasures Law (暴力団対策法 Bōryokudan Taisaku Hō?) enacted in 1991.
Under the Organized Crime Countermeasures Law, the Prefectural Public Safety Commissions have registered 21 syndicates as the designated boryokudan groups. Fukuoka Prefecture has the largest number of designated boryokudan groups among all of the prefectures, at 5; the Kudo-kai, the Taishu-kai, the Fukuhaku-kai, the Dojin-kai and the Namikawa-kai.
Designated boryokudan groups are usually large, old-established organizations (mostly formed before World War II, some even formed before the Meiji Restoration of the 19th century), however there are some exceptions such as the Namikawa-kai which, with its blatant armed conflicts with the Dojin-kai, was registered only two years after its formation.
The numbers which follow the names of boryokudan groups refer to the group’s leadership. For example, Yoshinori Watanabe headed the Yamaguchi-gumi fifth; on his retirement, Shinobu Tsukasa became head of the Yamaguchi-gumi sixth, and “Yamaguchi-gumi VI” is the group’s formal name.
|Name||Japanese Name||Headquarters||Reg. in||Notes|
|Yamaguchi-gumi VI||六代目山口組||Kobe, Hyogo||1992||Yamaguchi means the surname of the boss and kumi or gumi means group.|
|Inagawa-kai||稲川会||Minato, Tokyo||1992||Inagawa means the surname of the boss and kai means organization or society. It is a member of the Kantō-Shinboku-kai (Kanto social gathering).|
|Sumiyoshi-kai||住吉会||Minato, Tokyo||1992||Sumiyoshi means the name of place. It is a member of the Kantō-Shinboku-kai.|
|Aizu-Kotetsu-kai VI||六代目会津小鉄会||Kyoto, Kyoto||1992||It was renamed from Aizu-Kotetsu in 1998. Aizu Kotetsu means the nickname of the first boss and Aizu means the name of place.|
|Kudō-kai V||五代目工藤會||Kitakyushu, Fukuoka||1992||It was renamed from Kudō-rengō-Kusano-ikka in 1999. Kudō means the surname of the boss. It is a member of the Yonsha-kai (Four social gathering).|
|Kyokuryū-kai||旭琉會||Okinawa, Okinawa||1992||It was renamed from Okinawa-Kyokuryū-kai in 2011.|
|Kyōsei-kai V||五代目共政会||Hiroshima, Hiroshima||1992||It is a member of the Gosha-kai (Five social gathering).|
|Gōda-ikka VII||七代目合田一家||Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi||1992||Gōda means the surname of the boss and ikka means family. It is a member of the Gosha-kai.|
|Kozakura-ikka IV||四代目小桜一家||Kagoshima, Kagoshima||1992|
|Asano-gumi V||五代目浅野組||Kasaoka, Okayama||1992||Asano means the surname of the boss. It is a member of the Gosha-kai.|
|Dōjin-kai||道仁会||Kurume, Fukuoka||1992||It is a member of the Yonsha-kai.|
|Shinwa-kai II||二代目親和会||Takamatsu, Kagawa||1992||It is a member of the Gosha-kai.|
|Sōai-kai||双愛会||Ichihara, Chiba||1992||It is a member of the Kantō-Shinboku-kai.|
|Kyōdō-kai III||三代目俠道会||Onomichi, Hiroshima||1993||It is a member of the Gosha-kai.|
|Taishū-kai||太州会||Tagawa, Fukuoka||1993||Taishū means the nickname of the first boss. It is a member of the Yonsha-kai.|
|Sakaume-gumi IX||九代目酒梅組||Osaka, Osaka||1993|
|Kyokutō-kai||極東会||Toshima, Tokyo||1993||Kyokutō means Far East. It is a member of the Kantō-Shinnō-Doushi-kai (Kanto Shennong Association). It is a tekiya group.|
|Azuma-gumi II||二代目東組||Osaka, Osaka||1993||Azuma means the surname of the boss.|
|Matsuba-kai||松葉会||Taito, Tokyo||1994||Matsuba means pine needle, is kamon of the boss of predecessor syndicate Sekine-gumi. It is a member of the Kantō-Shinboku-kai.|
|Fukuhaku-kai III||三代目福博会||Fukuoka, Fukuoka||2000||Fukuhaku means the name of place, Hakata Fukuoka.|
|Namikawa-kai||浪川会||Omuta, Fukuoka||2008||It was formed from split from Dojin-kai in 2006 and remained active until on June 11, 2013, when the senior members of the Kyushu Seido-kai said that the gang was disbanding to rejoin the Dojin-kai after resolving the problems the dispute had caused. On October 7, 2013 was formed the Namikawa-mutsumi-kai by upper members of the former Kyushu-Seido-kai when they visited a shrine in Kumamoto Prefecture when one member read aloud an oath announcing the formation of the new yakuza group, based in Omuta City, Fukuoka. Namikawa means the surname of the boss.|
|Kōbe-Yamaguchi-gumi||神戸山口組||Awaji, Hyogo||2016||It was split of Yamaguchi-gumi VI in 2015.|