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Opinion

Society

To Realize a Society without Crime Syndicates
-Citizens' Responsibility, Government's Responsibility-

Masahiro Tamura
Professor, Research Council, Waseda University

The Tokyo Metropolitan Ordinance for Eliminating Organized Crime Groups went into effect on October 1. This ordinance stipulates basic principles of eliminating organized crime syndicates, clarifies the responsibilities of the metropolitan government, its citizens and businesses, and sets forth actions to promote activities for eliminating gangs, as well as bans on providing such gangs with any benefit by businesses and on the opening of gang offices around schools. Such ordinances had been enacted or enforced in most prefectures, and enforcement in Tokyo brought the entire nation in step. This is a big step toward eliminating crime groups as organized crime syndicates which have taken deep root in the Japanese society, and I, as a Tokyo resident as well as one of those who worked on enacting the nation's first anti-gang ordinance in Fukuoka Prefecture, welcome the enactment and enforcement of ordinances across the country, and I earnestly hope for a good outcome in the future.

Earlier Crime syndicates and measures

Criminal organizations have existed for ages, and they say it was after the postwar period of confusion that the name, organized crime syndicates, became common. Since then, they have been not only groups of violent persons who exercise brute force in amusement quarters, but groups which gain funds through organized violence, and they have been deeply involved in various economic and social scenes, including management of cargo-handling labor, the entertainment industry, loan sharking, and bankruptcy liquidation, in addition to drug trafficking and prostitution. Gang membership reached its peak of some 180,000 across the country in 1963. As a result of the police efforts to arrest a number of gangsters to break up organizations, and to expose crimes as sources of funds, their numbers dropped to almost half at the end of the Showa era. The effects of these mobster groups on the society continued, however, with deeper involvement in the corporate society besides intervention in civil affairs including debt collection. In the backdrop, there was a mentality of the corporate society back in the Showa era that it was acceptable to have transactions with antisocial forces behind the scenes as long as problems did not surface, which crime syndicates exploited, as well as a basis where the general public used gangs.

The so-called Anti-Organized Crime Law was enacted in 1991 in order to protect citizens from damage by underworld syndicates, and the law has enabled the police to halt civil intervention violence by gangsters, and institutionalized support by the National Center for the Elimination of Boryokudan for civil actions after providing consultation to crime victims. It can be said that efforts were initiated to isolate crime syndicates by the society as a whole. Since then, in combination with police crackdowns, the elimination of criminal gangs has progressed in various fields, such as barring these organizations from public construction, regulating violence against public administration, and eliminating the mob from the securities industry.

On the whole, however, the number of organized crime syndicates has not declined considerably in the Heisei era. This means that adequate financial resources still flow into these organizations. While high-profile violence decreases, gangs still commit heinous crimes targeting the general public when deemed necessary to them.

Significance of ordinances for eliminating crime groups

Unlike conventional anti-gang measures targeting those related to underworld syndicates, the general businesses are subject to these ordinances. Many of the businesses that provide syndicates with some benefits are only reluctant to do so for fear of violence, which means that they are, so to speak, in a victims' position. Provision of payoffs to crime groups helps them survive and gain strength, however, which threatens the security of the society, and makes the corporate society unhealthy, causing increased gang pressure on other businesses trying to cut off ties. The ordinances have set forth responsibility of working on elimination of syndicates, banned providing benefit, and built a mechanism in which violators face social censure. The primary goal of these anti-gang ordinances is to give a supportive push to those who, in fact, hope to cut ties with crime groups, by clarifying disadvantage of being involved with such groups.

The ordinances contain a provision, although it has not drawn much attention, that those who educate the youth shall give guidance and advice so that the youth recognize that crime syndicates exert undue influence on civic life, that they do not join gang groups, and do not suffer damage from these groups. By making the youth aware of gangs' viciousness, the ordinances seek long-term effects of preventing the personnel infrastructure of these organizations from being reproduced.

In addition, the ordinances provide that the prefectural police shall take protection measures for those involved in eliminating the crime syndicates, however what is required in the first place is that the police establish and maintain sufficient preparedness for actual protection.

The government's legislative responsibility

Ordinances are only allowed to stipulate a part of what is needed for anti-gang measures. Lawsuits seeking compensation and eviction of offices against crime syndicates must be filed by crime victims or local residents under existing laws, and legal solutions are wanted in which the government grants a party's position in civil actions to the National Center for the Elimination of Boryokudan instead of leaving citizens exposed to these syndicates.

In recent years, against organized crimes, prescribing evidence-collection methods to finger-point the senior level of the organizations and implementing a system to actually divest funds have become a global standard. There are many countries with systems that do not acknowledge the very existence of organized crime syndicates. It seems rare worldwide that large-scale organized criminal gangs of 80,000 members overtly exist as they do in Japan. Although it is crucially important and significant as well for citizens and businesses to eliminate syndicates, this alone does not solve problems related to them. It is strongly desired to draft legal systems to deal a blow to organized criminal gangs.

The legislative responsibility which the Diet should assume still remains.

Masahiro Tamura
Professor, Research Council, Waseda University

[Profile]
Professor Tamura graduated from the Faculty of Law, Kyoto University in 1977, and joined the National Police Agency in the same year. After serving in successive posts, including Manager of the Driver's License Division, the National Police Agency, Counselor, Cabinet Secretariat, Head of the National Police Academy Police Policy Research Center, and Manager of the Fukuoka Prefecture Police Headquarters, he started his current work at Waseda Institute of the Policy of Social Safety in March 2009.

[Publications]
An Interpretation of Police Administrative Law, Fourth Edition [Keisatsu Gyosei Ho Kaisetsu, Yon Tei Ban] (Tokyo Horei Publishing), Fundamental Thinking on Police Administrative Law Today [Kyo Ni Okeru Keisatsu Gyosei Ho No Kihonteki Na Kangae Kata], An Explanation of Police Officer Authority in the Field, Second Edition (Two Volumes) [Genba Keisatsukan Kengen Kaisetsu, Dai Ni han (Joge Kan)] (Tachibana Shobo), "Techniques for Policing Crime [Hanzai Togyo No Shuho]" in the book A Multifaceted Investigation of Crime [Hanzai No Takakuteki Kento] (Morikazu Taguchi, et al (ed), pp. 315-344) (Yuhikaku Publishing)