Quirky News

  • 3 April 2014, 10:33

Yakuza gangsters to recruit members online

Japan's biggest organised criminal gang has launched its own website to boost its ailing membership.

Numbers are down so the country's largest yakuza syndicate, the Yamaguchi-gumi, has also written a corporate song in a traditional folk-style extolling the yakuza spirit of chivalry to attract potential recruits.

The website - Banish Drugs and Purify the Nation League - also offers an anti-drugs message.

Another video shows men pounding sticky rice for a New Year festival, and there are galleries of pictures showing members involved in the clean-ups following the 1995 earthquake in Kobe and the 2011 tsunami.

It is not the first time the group has taken action to increase its appeal.

Last year it launched its own magazine including a poetry page and fishing diaries.

The number of yakuza has fallen in recent years, slipping below 60,000 - an all-time low - in 2013.

Like the Italian Mafia or Chinese triads, the yakuza engages in activities ranging from gambling, drugs and prostitution to loan sharking, protection rackets, white-collar crime and business conducted through "front" companies.

The gangs, which are not illegal, have historically been tolerated by the authorities, although there are periodic clampdowns on some of their less savoury activities.

The yakuza are heavily mythologised in Japan, with films, television dramas and fan magazines glamourising lives of stylised violence that are governed by a samurai code of honour.

One ritual in the group involves the severing of fingers of members who have broken the group's rules in some way.

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