The Yakuza is a term used to describe organized crime syndicates in Japan, also known as the “Japanese mafia”. The Yakuza originated in the early 17th century, where they were originally formed as a form of vigilante groups to protect local communities. Over time, the Yakuza evolved into a criminal organization that engaged in activities such as gambling, extortion, smuggling, and prostitution. Today, the Yakuza is a highly organized and hierarchical organization with an estimated 39,000 members.

The Yakuza is known for its strict code of conduct and hierarchical structure. Members are expected to follow a set of rules and regulations known as the “yakuza code” or “ninkyo”. This code emphasizes loyalty, honor, and respect, and members who violate it can face severe consequences, including expulsion from the organization or even death. The Yakuza also has a strong presence in Japanese society, with many members being involved in legitimate businesses and having connections to political and corporate circles. Despite its illegal activities, the Yakuza has been seen by some as a necessary evil, providing a form of order and protection in certain areas. However, the Japanese government has taken steps to crack down on the Yakuza in recent years, passing laws to limit their activities and freeze their assets.

History of the Yakuza

The Yakuza is a Japanese criminal organization that has a long and complex history dating back to the early 17th century. The origins of the Yakuza can be traced back to the Edo period when groups of gamblers and merchants began to form associations known as tekiya.

The Edo period, also known as the Tokugawa period, was a period of Japanese history that lasted from 1603 to 1868. It was characterized by relative peace and stability, as well as the consolidation of political power by the Tokugawa shogunate.

During the Edo period, Japan was largely closed off from the rest of the world, with strict laws governing trade and travel. This isolation allowed for the development of a unique culture and society, as well as significant advances in art, literature, and technology.

The Edo period also saw the rise of the merchant class, who became increasingly wealthy and influential. However, this era was not without its challenges, including economic and social inequality, natural disasters, and political unrest. The Edo period came to an end with the Meiji Restoration in 1868, which marked the beginning of modernization and Westernization in Japan.

These associations were made up of people who were considered to be outcasts from society, such as gamblers, street performers, and other people who were unable to find stable employment.

As these groups grew in size and power, they began to engage in criminal activities such as protection rackets and extortion. In the late 19th century, the government passed laws prohibiting these activities, and many of the tekiya disbanded or went underground. However, a number of these groups continued to operate in secret and eventually merged with other criminal organizations to form what is now known as the Yakuza.

Today, the Yakuza is known for its involvement in a wide range of criminal activities, including drug trafficking, human trafficking, and money laundering. Despite efforts by the Japanese government to crack down on their activities, the Yakuza remains a powerful and influential force in Japanese society.

The Yakuza is a Japanese criminal organization that has been around for centuries, with roots tracing back to the Edo period in Japan (1603-1868). The Yakuza initially formed as a secret society of gamblers and misfits who banded together for mutual protection and support.

Over time, the Yakuza evolved into a more organized criminal organization with a hierarchical structure and a code of conduct known as the “Yakuza Way.” The Yakuza became involved in various criminal activities, such as gambling, loan sharking, drug trafficking, and prostitution.

The Yakuza also provided social services, such as protecting neighborhoods from crime and natural disasters, and mediating disputes between individuals and businesses. However, the Yakuza’s methods were often violent and illegal, and their involvement in criminal activities made them a target of law enforcement.

Today, the Yakuza remains a significant criminal organization in Japan, although its influence has declined in recent years due to increased law enforcement efforts and changing social attitudes towards organized crime.


The Yakuza, also known as the Japanese mafia, is a highly structured and organized criminal organization with a hierarchical structure that is similar to a family. Here is a general overview of how the Yakuza is structured:

  1. Boss: At the top of the hierarchy is the boss, also known as oyabun, who is the leader of the Yakuza organization. The boss has ultimate control over the organization and makes all the major decisions.
  2. Underboss: The underboss, also known as Wakagashira, is the second in command and is responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the organization.
  3. Division Leaders: The Yakuza is divided into several divisions, each headed by a division leader. These leaders oversee the activities of the members within their division.
  4. Senior Members: Senior members are the backbone of the organization and are responsible for carrying out the boss’s orders. They are also responsible for recruiting new members into the organization.
  5. Foot Soldiers: Foot soldiers, also known as kobun, are the lowest level members of the organization. They are responsible for carrying out the orders of their superiors and performing various criminal activities.

The Yakuza is also known for its strict codes of conduct and honor, known as the “Yakuza code.” Breaking these codes can result in severe punishment, including expulsion from the organization or even death.

Criminal Activities

The yakuza engages in a wide range of criminal activities, including but not limited to:

  1. Extortion: The yakuza often demands money from businesses in exchange for “protection” from other criminal groups or themselves.
  2. Human trafficking: The yakuza is involved in the trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation.
  3. Drug trafficking: The yakuza is involved in the production, distribution, and sale of illegal drugs.
  4. Money laundering: The yakuza uses legitimate businesses to launder money obtained from criminal activities.
  5. Gambling: The yakuza runs illegal gambling operations such as casinos and pachinko parlors.
  6. Arms trafficking: The yakuza is involved in the smuggling of weapons and ammunition.
  7. Fraud: The yakuza engages in various types of fraud, including investment scams and identity theft.

It’s important to note that these criminal activities are illegal and harmful to society, and the yakuza is considered a serious threat to public safety in Japan.

While there have been instances of the yakuza providing some forms of support to the community, such as financial aid for victims of natural disasters or funding for local festivals and events, their overall impact on society is negative.

It’s important to understand that any charitable contributions made by the yakuza are often done to gain public favor and to legitimize their criminal activities. They may also use these contributions as a way to exert control and influence over certain segments of the community.

Additionally, the yakuza’s criminal activities have a significant negative impact on society, causing harm to individuals, businesses, and the overall economy. They engage in extortion, drug trafficking, human trafficking, and other criminal activities that are harmful to the well-being of the community.

Overall, while the yakuza may provide some forms of support to the community, their criminal activities and negative impact on society far outweigh any potential positive contributions.

List of Known Yakuza Gangs