Yakuza in Japan: Mobsters Becoming ‘Goldman Sachs with guns’

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
December 2, 2013 Updated: July 18, 2015

Yakuza mobsters in Japan are becoming “Goldman Sachs with guns” as they enter less traditional sectors of business to seek new ways of making money, says crime writer Jake Adelstein.

“Insider trading has become huge—you can make much more money manipulating stocks” than extorting businesses, Adelstein told AFP.

Adelstein, who used to work at Yomiuri, has a bestselling memoir “Tokyo Vice” set to become a movie.

News Photo: By Kimiko de Freytas Tamura This photo taken…

Jake Adelstein holds up manga (cartoon) magazines based on the Yakuza. (Frank Zeller/AFP/Getty Images)

He says that mobsters are switching from tough guy personas to clean-cut looks that can work in any board room. 

“They’re savvy investors,” he said. “They like to gamble.”

 The mobsters are notorious for wreaking havoc in sections of Japanese society for decades, extorting money in similar fashions to the Mafia in Italy and the U.S.

The move to other ways to make money comes as membership is quickly falling as police crack down on the organized crime, experts said. 

News Photo: Kenichi Shinoda the boss of Japans largest yakuza…

Kenichi Shinoda, the boss of Japan’s largest Yakuza gang. (Jiji Press/AFP/Getty Images)

“Crime syndicates…are out to make money, and they’ll use whatever means available,” said one anonymous person familiar with the mobsters.

Unlike the Mafia and some other groups, the Yakuza perch on the edge of society, being legal groups but still closely watched. 

Nowadays, Tokyo is under pressure to deal more with the mobsters. 

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.