Yakuza Godfather Targeted in Obama Crackdown on Japanese Organized Crime (Bloomberg)
Friday February 24th, 2012
Japan’s yakuza organized-crime groups, having operated openly in their home country for more than a century, are facing tougher treatment by an overseas foe: the U.S. Obama administration.
The largest of Japan’s yakuza organizations, the Yamaguchi- gumi, and two of its leaders will have their U.S. assets frozen and transactions barred under sanctions announced yesterday by the Treasury Department. The group earns “billions of dollars” a year from crimes in Japan and abroad, including drug and human trafficking, prostitution, money laundering and fraud, the department said in a statement.
The U.S. move represents “a slap in the face of the Japanese government” for failing to rein in organized crime, said Jake Adelstein, a Tokyo-based writer who covers the yakuza.
“The U.S. government feels that the Japanese government is very tolerant toward organized crime,” Adelstein said today by telephone. It’s telling Japanese authorities, “Start doing something about your problem,” he said.
The Yamaguchi-gumi’s leaders targeted by the sanctions are its “godfather,” Kenichi Shinoda, 70, and his deputy Kiyoshi Takayama, 64, the Treasury Department said in its statement. The U.S. also imposed sanctions against seven “key members and associates” of a syndicate called the Brothers’ Circle, based in Central Asia, Russia and the Middle East.