The inhouse journal of Japan's mobsters

by Toby Manhire / 09 September, 2013
Travel stories, amateur poetry, and appeals to the yakuza code of honour.
The 1974 film The 3rd Generation Leader of the Yamaguchi-gumi.

Puzzle tips, fishing yarns, some amateur poetry: the newspaper Yamaguchi-Shimpo is in many ways a typical community newspaper. Except that its community is Japan’s biggest crime syndicate, the Yamaguchi-gumi.

Jake Adelstein of the Japan Times has read it:


The first edition of the Yamaguchi-Shimpo is a professionally produced, full-colour tabloid emblazoned on the front page with the group’s diamond-shaped insignia and — across the very top in ornate cursive lettering — its kōryō (code of conduct). As well as carrying a lengthy tribute to Taoka, who would have been 100 this year, it features a wide variety of content: a travel story on Mount Fuji, a piece on “the flower of the month,” asagao (morning glory) — and snarky poems that capture the bliss of yakuza married life, e.g.: “My wife nags, ‘Toss out the trash,’ (not knowing) she’s oversized garbage herself.”

 Leading the paper, distributed among the organisation’s estimated 27,000 membership, is a signed editorial by the boss, Shinobu Tsukasa.

He reminds the yakuza that they are not, as the police say, ‘a violent group’ but a humanitarian organization that has helped the nation in times of crisis — such as in the chaos of postwar Japan and after the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, which devastated Kobe and surrounding areas and claimed around 6,500 lives. He also admonishes the younger members to behave themselves and uphold the traditional yakuza code of honor. (Not to steal, rob, engage in sexual assault or attack civilians). He concludes by declaring: “Even in times of crisis there is hope.”


Via the Independent.
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