The Yakuza seem to be diminishing, or are they merely restructuring?

Membership of Japan’s once feared yakuza underworld groups has fallen below the 40,000 figure, according to new police statistics, although watchers of Japan’s underworld warn the apparent decline may mask more sinister intentions.

The National Police Agency has issued a report stating that there were 39,100 members of organised crime groups in Japan, down 7,800 individuals and below the 40,000 figure for the first time since the authorities first started tallying yakuza numbers in 1958.

The total number of members declined for the 12th consecutive year, the police said. Membership of the Yamaguchi-gumi, the largest underworld group in Japan, fell from 14,100 to 11,800.

The Yamaguchi-gumi mafia split within the past few years, and there has been sporadic violence between fractions.


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