The Yakuza is the 2nd oldest criminal society in the world, being 400 years old (surpassed only by the 800 year old Chinese Triads). It may be the the richest and most powerful of the international crime syndicates. The Yakuza are a technologically savvy organization which excels at making the most of what technology has to offer. It is one shaped by ancient traditions and ideas of honor and duty.
Which has a relationship with the megacorporations of Japan that is stronger than any other crime syndicate has with the corporations of their homeland (except for the David Cartel which is for all intents and purposes part of Aztechnology). It is also one of the most bigoted and phobic organizations in the world, certainly the most racist and misogynistic criminal organization in both the "West" and in the Far East.
Number of Gumi (Clans): 29 (known)
Number of Rengo (Alliances): 9 (known)
Membership (worldwide): 10s of thousands
Associates (worldwide): 100s of thousands
Membership (per Clan): dozens to a 1000
Annual Global Economic Impact: Trillion (nuyen)
- 1 History
- 2 Organization
- 3 Membership
- 4 Culture
- 5 Cultural Conflict in the Yakuza
- 6 How the Yakuza Operate
- 7 Assets
- 8 Criminal Enterprises
- 9 The World of the Yakuza
- 10 External Alliances & Partnerships
- 11 Nations and City-States with Yakuza
- 12 Major Yakuza Factions
- 13 Reality of a Yakuza Worldwide Empire
- 14 Yakuza in the Real 21st Century
- 15 References
- 16 Index
- 17 Semi-Official
- 18 Yakuza in the Real World
- 19 Yakuza in the Media
Evolution of the Yakuza
The Yakuza is a criminal organization, that is older than the Mafia, dating back to the 17th century making it twice as old as the Cosa Nostra. It's origins lie with the "bakuto" (gamblers) who started to band together. The name "Yakuza" coming from the worst hand possible in "hanafuda" a card game, being 8-9-3 (ya-ku-za). In Japanese legal terminology, yakuza organizations are referred to as boryokudan (暴力団, "violence groups"), which more traditional "samurai heritage" Yakuza members consider an insult as boroyokudan is applied to any violent criminal.
Unlike many organized crime groups, like the Triads and the Mafia, which evolved from secret societies, the model of the Yakuza was the machi yakko (町奴, "town servant"), vigilantes protectors within the community (Although many citizens also view them as kabukimono or crazy ones, for their propensity toward violence, vulgar slang, and bizarre appearance) or the masterless samurai ronin. As a result, at least in the JIS and it's protectorates, Yakuza groups maintain open offices, often with a wooden plank on the front door displaying the group name and their emblem. Yakuza members often wear sunglasses and flashy suits so that their profession can be immediately recognized by civilians (堅気, katagi). Members typically wear insignia pins on their suits, and, if needed, can display their tattoos or customized cyberware.
Growth of the Yakuza
By the late 1700s, the Yakuza were one of Japan's most powerful organizations, its members feared and respected by the population. The commoners usually held them in high regard as the early Yakuza saw themselves as the "protectors of the people". The Yakuza modernized with the rest of Japan during the industrialization of Japan in the 19th century. They infiltrated the construction industry, the docks, and other industries. During this period they also began to get involved in politics. By lending support to friendly government officials and politicians, the government harassed them less and on occasions gave them official sanction.
After the Second World War, the Yakuza underwent another wave of reform in which the organization took its current form. In the chaotic years after Japan's surrender they operated as a parallel police force which assisted in maintaining law and order in those chaotic times giving them a degree of legitimacy. Yakuza ran the black markets and provided gambling and entertainment. They soon moved into real estate and construction, and then got involved in politics. The Yakuza turned away from much of the ancient code and began victimizing the ordinary citizens with protection rackets and shakedowns. They aggressively recruited, expanded their operations, and replaced their swords with guns. Membership in the Yakuza peaked in 1963 with 184,100 members.
By 1989 during the era of "Japan, Inc", the Yakuza was estimated to be earning up to $100 billion a year.  A decade later in 1999 after the bubble burst, the Yakuza were earning $45 billion a year and were 73,000 strong, a 50% drop after the bubble burst..Prior to the Awakening, the largest, wealthiest, and most powerful Yakuza syndicate were the Yamaguchi-gumi.with 30,000 members of which 6,000 members were in its leading clan the Yamaken-gumi. The Yamaguchi-gumi had been the leading Yakuza syndicate since the end of World War 2.
Yakuza in the Sixth World
With the rise of Japan and the overseas expansion of its corporations, the Yakuza itself expanded overseas, especially throughout the Pacific Rim and in North America. In the process they gained control of the drug trade in both Japan and the Pacific Rim. Due to their expansion overseas, they started to recruit non-Japanese members in various Asian countries (e.g. Korea). Tying themselves to the Japanese corporations which became global powers, the Yakuza likewise became global. Sometimes they are confined to the Japanese enclaves populated by Japanacorp employees and their dependents. Sometimes there are so many Japanese citizens in a city (e.g. Seattle) that the Yakuza is able to operate in a normal fashion and on an equal and sometimes stronger position than the homegrown syndicates (e.g. Mafia).
In the last couple of decades, the Yakuza has been suffering setbacks due to a variety of factors, including the Year of the Comet. Anti-Japanese insurgencies and terrorists working with crime syndicates (e.g. Triads) and pirates undermined the Yakuza in the Philippines, the California Free State, and Peru. Once the Imperial Japanese forces withdrew from those countries, the Yakuza began to rapidly lose territory and market share. The Yakuza weren't helped by self-inflicted wounds brought about by the policies and decisions of the oyabun of the Watada-rengo. Which resulted in the Yakuza Purge, which led to the creation of a ferociously anti-Yakuza underworld in the form of the Korean Seoulpa Rings. Followed by his alienation of the Yakuza in North America which led to them breaking away from the Watada-rengo in the Shotozumi Uprising. In addition to his pushing the metahumans in the overseas Yakuza territories to join the Triads or enlist with anti-Japanese guerrillas, pirates, or terrorists.
It is a criminal organization that for over 60 years (since the 2010s) has been steadily gaining new territory and markets in the West, at the expense of the Mafia, especially in North America and to a lesser degree in Australia. It has also been expanding into Vory territory in Russia over the last decade. On the other hand it has also steadily been losing territory and markets to the Triads for half a century, first in Southeast Asia where they were displaced as the overlords of crime and now across the Pacific Rim and most recently within Japan itself.
The Yakuza are organized into clans and syndicates which are called "gumi" and "kai". Leading these factions are the oyabun who act as father figures that rule and guide the kobun within the syndicate. The oyabun holds the ultimate authority in the syndicate. A kobun swears his loyalty to the oyabun and becomes his vassal. In return for the kobun's complete loyalty and dedication, the oyabun provides the kobun with a home and the backing of his gumi (clan). Which may have anywhere from a couple dozen members to a thousand. It's organized like a corporation with the oyabun serving the role of CEO .
Yakuza syndicates take one of two forms. The Kumi (family) known by the bastardized form of "gumi" are Yakuza organizations which are based around a specific clan or they enforce the Yakuza concept of it being a surrogate family. The Kai (association) is a Yakuza organization whose focus is centered on a symbol or idea, such as sticking it to the law, making loads of nuyen, and so on.
- The Oyabun is the chief executive of the clan. Becoming the Oyabun requires ambition, intelligence, and ruthlessness.
- The Wakagashira is the second of command, the first lieutenant. It varies by organization but they can be a warboss, an underboss, or an administrator.
- The Shategashira is the 2nd lieutenant. He is a regional boss who has a certain degree of independence due to the distance from the rest of the kumi, especially if it's an international operation.
- The Wakagashira-hose are the second-in-command to the kumi, who serve as his assistants and underlings. He serves as the buffer between the upper-tier officers and the street-level grunts. They are the highest-ranking to regularly get their hands dirty and are known by sight to the street-level kumi-in.
- The Hisho are the secretaries to the high-ranking Yakuza, starting from the wakagashira-hosa and up. Not only do they manage the appointments and provide the Oyabun with sex, but they are also in charge of arranging his meetings and transportation, prioritizing things, and stalling the police. A significant number are completely qualified bodyguards and have implants protecting the secrets they know.
- The Kaikei are the legal advisers within the clan. Who look for the loopholes necessary for the clan to operate in the grey quasi-legal areas, and finding new markets and opportunities for the clan. It is their duty to visit members who are incarcerated to arrange conjugal visits, contraband, and so on. They also instruct new recruits in the what is expected from them when they get arrested.
- The Komon are the specialists, as in the BTL programmers, doctors to treat the wounded and perform illegal augmentations, porno film directors, drug chemists, hackers, Awakened troubleshooters, and so on.
- The Shingin are the accountants of the Yakuza. It's their job to keep the books. They also manage the investments and perform financial projections, quarter-by-quarter market analysis, cost-benefit analysis, and so on.
- The Kumi-in are the foot soldiers of the Yakuza, who deliver the Oyabun's message on the streets with their guns and knives. They are also the ones who go to jail for the assault or murder. They are the loan shark collectors, hustlers, bodyguards, lieutenants, enforcers, captains, brothel owners, and gambling joint owners. The higher-ranked ones are called kyodai (big brothers) by their subordinates and the lower-ranked ones are called by their elders shatei (little brothers). Depending on how their clan is structured determines who the kumi-in answers directly to.
Various gumi will join together in a loose alliance called a "rengo". While individual gumi may form power blocs or rengo which are led by a powerful gumi and it's oyabun, the loyalty of a Yakuza member extends only to his oyabun and the gumi itself. Oyabun form and break alliances with other gumi at will, joining and leaving gumi whenever the oyabun decides to do so.
The Yakuza is the most racist of the major crime syndicates when it comes to ethnicity, surpassing even the Vory. Among the traditional Yakuza, foreigners are not even worthy of shining one of their shoes and therefore are not wanted in the Yakuza. Though they relented somewhat when some of the clans which expanded into Korea recruited Koreans, after the purge the traditionalists returned to a policy of racial purity.
This is slowly changing, especially overseas with Yakuza clans that have relocated to other nations decades ago now having members that are of mixed blood, part-Japanese and part indigenous. Outside of the forward-looking New Way clans, non-Japanese Yakuza have to work twice as hard as their Japanese counterparts to earn the equivalent respect.
Which may have contributed to the Triads regaining their primacy in Southeast Asia from the Yakuza. As the Triads are not only far more willing to recruit from other ethnic groups (not only Asians) than the other Yakuza, but also promote non-Chinese (including into the highest position in the Triad).
Outside of the Middle East, the Yakuza is the crime syndicate which is the most hostile to metahumans. Partly this is due to the racism mentioned earlier and partly it's due to Shintoism, a religion which distrusts and dislikes metahumans. Among the Japanese, the metahumans, even those whose heritage is purely Japanese are not wanted. They are willing to hire metahumans, but they won't let them join the Yakuza. Which is ironic since historically the Yakuza recruited from among the lowest of Japanese society, from the burakumin (the "untouchable" caste) and the peasant classes.
The racism toward metahumans results in the anti-metahuman Humanis Policlub receiving financial support from Yakuza leaders. A fact which the Triads have taken advantage of as they make it their policy to approach metahumans who are disaffected because they can't join the Yakuza and recruit them. Which gives them a lot of pull in the neighborhoods that are mostly metahuman.
Things are slowly starting to change with the emergence of Yakuza clans which follow the "New Way" which is more accepting of women, those of mix-blood, and metahumans. They are still the minority and none of them rank among the most powerful clans. Outside of the progressive New Way clans, metahuman Yakuza have to work twice as hard as their Japanese human counterparts to earn the equivalent respect. Currently the two most powerful metahuman friendly clans are the Kawaru-gumi and the Inagawa-kai.
Among the crime syndicates of the West or the Far East, the Yakuza is the least likely to accept women into its ranks. Most traditionalist Yakuza clans have completely banned women from joining. Some North American clans have permitted female kobun to join their syndicates.
The few women in the Yakuza, have to work twice as hard as the men to receive the same amount of respect and power. They are treated as sisters by their male counterparts and are called "O-Nee-san" (elder sister) or for higher-ranked ones its "O-Nee-sama" (revered elder sister).  There is only one known female oyabun, an ork by the name of Megumi Aoi who heads the metahuman clan Kawaru-gumi.
The traditionalists of the Yakuza distrust magic. Despite the fact that the Shinto religion accepted the return of magic and it has been reintegrated into Japanese society. Likely contributing to the Yakuza being magically weak is that when it comes to Shinto magic, the Shinto priests are all shamans and most of the shamans are female (which is a problem for the misogynistic Yakuza). Because of this anti-Awakened bias, there are Yakuza leaders that contribute financially to the Humanis Policlub.
Which has given the Triads a great advantage in the Far East due to them being magic heavy syndicates. An advantage that has given them a stranglehold on China and until recently the Golden Triangle. An advantage that may have contributed to the Triads regaining their preeminent position in Southeast Asia from the Yakuza.
In the aftermath of the revelation about technomancers, the Yakuza (like the Mafia) being a conservative criminal organization saw them as a threat and its focus was on making its operations secure against technomancers. Which left field wide open to the tech-savvy Triads and Vory to recruit the technomancers.
It was the Yakuza-controlled megacorporation, the Mitsuhama Computer Technologies, which was leading the anti-technomancer pack among the megacorporations. Not only spreading anti-technomancer propaganda but also being the most proactive in hunting down technomancers and either capturing them or killing them. Today the Old School clans dislike and distrust technomancers more than they do magic users.
Yakuza in North America
In North America, on the West Coast (Hawaii, Seattle, California Free State, etc), nearly all Yakuza are humans of Japanese descent. A few are non-Japanese (adopted children or products of mixed mating), and even fewer are metahumans. On the East Coast (CAS & UCAS), the clans are still majority human but include much more metahumans than on the West Coast. Those metahumans are normally elves and dwarves, while trogs are almost never found in their ranks.
Tradition of Service
The old Yakuza code emphasized respect for the common people. In their eyes, a victim of the Yakuza had to choose to become a victim. No one forces somone to buy drugs from the Yakuza or spend their money at one of their brothels or gambling dens. A citizen whose home is burglarized, who is mugged in a back alley, or has his wallet taken by pickpockets in turn is considered to be a victim by the Yakuza because they were not given a choice. Some of the Yakuza continue to subscribe to that tradition and will police their territory to prevent violent crimes. Most of the Yakuza though have abandoned that practice and now take a cut of any street crime in the districts they control.
Back in the day, the Yakuza provided the population a kind of "justice for hire" service. In which those whom believed themselves wronged by another person or group would take his or her case to the oyabun in that area and request that they help. If the oyabun decided to help, kobun would "exact justice" from the offender. The wronged party would be charged a fee which for the service which was based on their ability to pay. It is one of the reasons that in Japanese society there is sympathy for the Yakuza, even among the authorities who usually decline to prosecute its members or even investigate crimes related to the Yakuza. Unless they commit murder (except if it was the only "appropriate" action) or kill civilians in which case the Japanese police take action.
Code of Honor
The Yakuza code of honor is shaped by Japanese culture and consists of three major elements; giri, jingi, and ninjo. "Giri" means "obligation" or "duty". Which requires the Yakuza to repay their debts and follow the dictates of obedience and honor. Debts may be repaid in money but usually are done through loyalty and service. Failure to fulfill their duty or obligation brings shame on the Yakuza member, his gumi (clan), and the oyabun (boss). Yakuza take the concept of duty seriously and never forget when a favor is done for him, and will repay the debt.
"Jingi" is deference and respect for a superior. All Yakuza are expected to practice jingi and act in a proper and civilized manner. Some of the oyabun are of the opinion that only Japanese humans deserve to be treated in a civilized and proper manner. Other oyabun believe otherwise and will harshly punish any members of their gumi who fail to act in a proper manner toward other (meta)humans.
"Ninjo" encompasses things such as compassion, feelings, sympathy, and emotions. It is a quality that makes a man sympathetic to the plight of others and is instilled in an individual early in their life. Yakuza who have it are motivated to protect those who seek justice and the concept of ninjo is still upheld by some of the more honorable and traditional Yakuza.
Irezumi is the tradition of full-body tattooing, which the traditional clans are deeply into. Especially the expensive full-body suits of tattoos which are done manually via the old techniques. Each full-body tattoo suit takes years to finish if ever, and each session can cost up to 6K nuyen. The Oyabun and senior officers may award good service and loyalty by subsidizing their trips to get tattoos.
Traditionial hand-inked tattoos are the most common medium in the Yakuza for quickened spells, though it's still uncommon due to the requirement of having a master tattoo artists and a powerful sorcerer. Other Yakuza, prefer modern techniques such as biotattoos and nanotattoos, which the Sons of the Neo Chrysanthemum are famous for with thier glow in the dark bioluminescent tattooos in night clubs.
Sakasuki is the ancient Shinto ritual which the Yakuza use to seal promises and most importantly bonds of loyalty. Newly recruited Yakuza are inducted into the clan and their relationship with the Oyabun is established with Sasauki ceremonies. It's a pretty simple ceremony but one that is highly ritualized, which may at times require a third party (usually a Shinto priest) who makes sure all is set up correctly, pours the sake, delivers the prayers, and so on.
Yubisume, is the ritual of cutting off one of your fingers on pain of dishonor, shame, and worse at the hands of the Oyabun. It consists of a ritual which is attended by the Oyabun. Binding your smallest finger on the right hand with a white cloth, then with a sharp blade cutting off a joint or even a complete finger. You aren't supposed to show any emotion or pain as that would bring you even more shame. The piece is then offered to the Oyaban. If he accepts it, then it's over but if not, you are supposed to cut more. Your not permitted to replace them with prosthetics. It is also used on extremely rare occasions as a form of protest. Since it is considered rude for a member of the Yakuza to speak against the boss, cutting off your finger and presenting it to him is used.
Seppuku is practiced by the Yakuza, which is ritual suicide by using a sword. The way it is done is thrusting a blade straight in and then across. If done right, you'll be spending the last minutes in horrifying pain with the intestines unraveling and spilling out, and blood, fecal matter, and bile everywhere. Respectable Yakuza bosses will have an executioner nearby to quickly end the poor man's suffering.
Cultural Conflict in the Yakuza
In the Yakuza it is the Old School which is dominant. Most of the clans subscribe to it, and most importantly the largest, wealthiest, and most powerful Yakuza clans are all of the Old School. These clans are often multi-generational with members who are lifelong criminals, born and raised in the Yakuza. Old School clans have quite a bit of public support.
The traditionalists of the Old School believe in Japanese superiority and are racist, xenophobic, and misogynist ultra-nationalists. They are also firm believers of honoring the Yakuza traditions and in the Yakuza code, and are the most likely to protect their community and provide the traditional "services" to the lower classes which the clans historically were known for. They are admired for their dedication to their enemies' destruction, their violent skills, the principles by which they live by, and the social protocols to which they adhere. 
Within the Yakuza, it was the younger generation of Yakuza who founded started the New Way. They were tired of waiting to inherit the established clans as due to technology and medicine, the geriatric bosses were running the clans for decades. They also believe the Yakuza has to evolve and change its ways to survive and prosper in the Sixth World. Those clans which follow the New Way for the most part are newly established clans (relatively speaking) and none are at the top of the Yakuza hierarchy. New Way clans are often more aggressive, violent, brash, and arrogant. The are usually more concerned with making nuyen than honor.
The reformers of the New Way embrace and accept the Awakened, metahumans, women, technomancers, homosexuals, and those whom are part-Japanese. It is not consistent across the board though. It varies widely among the different clans which follows the New Way. One clan accepts women and homosexuals, another clan recruits metahumans, and yet another is open to half-Japanese members. These clans often maintain some restrictions against one or more groups.
The Watada-rengo are fully Old School, as every member syndicate is required to follow that path when it comes to membership. Their main rivals, the Shotozumi-rengo has left it to its members to decide what policy to follow, therefore some syndicates are Old School and others are New Way. Four Oyabun Rengo has taken a firmly neutral position when it comes to the ideological dispute. The newly established and growing Wanibuchi-rengo of Neo-Tokyo is solidly New Way, and has been recruiting extensively from the formerly proscribed classes of people.
How the Yakuza Operate
Public Face of the Clan
Depending on the clan, the Yakuza have a certain style as to how they dress and behave. The clans which operate mostly in the corporate world and/or focus on white collar crime are likely to wear suits. They act and talk like businessmen, and look the part wearing high-collared shirts with long-sleeves.
Clans which operate mostly on the streets and/or focus on violent rackets, wear outfits that are distinct and/or act in specific ways that identify them as mobsters. As in wearing 20th century pinstripe suits or brightly colored, garish Hawai'ian shirts. They may sport unusual hairstyles or tattoos on their necks, hands, and faces. Membes will act somewhat outrageously and/or walk with a certain gait.
Use of Manipulation
Manipulating events is preferred by many Yakuza over using heavy-handed tactics. They often win over those who fear the Yakuza by making appeals to their honor. The Yakuza are experts at manipulating what others think honor means, resulting that victims think that the Yakuza is everywhere. In the process they steadily increase their influence.
Yakuza are not known for underestimating the opposition or their meetings. The Oyabun's honor guard or personal security always consist of physical adepts. In any possible confrontation with shadowrunners, at least one of the Yakuza can be expected to be a physical adept and another one a mage.
The relation that the Yakuza has with the Japanacorps, makes them the world's most high-tech crime syndicate. The corporations often pay the Yakuza for services rendered with equipment that is cutting-edge. Yakuza members also are into cybermods in a big way, due to having access to corporate cyberdocs and clinics. Usually Yakuza kobun have cyberimplants that are top-of-the-line. Cyberware which is superior to that of the Mafia.
Due to their relation with the Japanacorps, the Yakuza have the most advanced weaponry (e.g. guns or vibro-blades) out of all the crime syndicates. Which is partly because the corporations will often pay them with cutting-edge weapons for services rendered.
The Kumi-in of the Old School clans are the most disciplined and professional mobsters among the crime syndicates (apart from those who are ex-military, ex-intelligence, etc) and the most willing to obey the orders given by their boss without question (only superseded by the near-fanatical Triad soldiers). They are tough and some of them know martial arts. Yakuza operatives rely on stealth and intelligence to achieve their objectives, and if the situation calls for it will strike hard and fast.
Yakuza soldiers are usually equipped with ballistic armor (e.g. armored jacket) and automatic firearms (usually sub-machine guns), and in some cases grenades or heavy pistols. In addition to the firearms they carry bladed weapons (e.g. hand blades and katana swords).
Yakuza who are cybered always have at least alpha-level cyberware. Most Yakuza come with betaware and their special agents have deltaware. Augmented Yakuza soldiers have received enhancements as cybereyes, muscle toner, wired reflexes, muscle augmentation, bone lacing, reaction enhancers, and muscle replacement.
The Yakuza don't like shadowrunners, as they see them as dishonorable. Unless the team is all Japanese, human, and male, they will often have issues with at least one member of the team. Yakuza "Johnsons" assume the shadowrunners are idiots, often refuse to answer questions or provide more information, and prefer to pay in kind (usually vices, though sometimes equipment).
Shadowrunners, are used by them as deniable assets in their battles with corporations, law enforcement, and rival syndicates. They will also use them to dishonor rival Yakuza by sending them on odd runs (e.g. smear campaigns, shakedowns, etc). When it comes to shadowrunners who cost the Yakuza money or business, or hurt their reputation, the Yakuza (like the Mafia) is willing to spend a lot of time and money tracking you down and making you pay.
Back in Japan, the Yakuza control all forms of gambling. Outside of Japan, they've established gambling operations where large Japanese expatriate communities are locating. If the Japanese population is large enough, they attempt to dominate gambling in the metroplex.
In various overseas cities the clans dominate traditional Asian gambling (pachinko, fan-tan, mahjong, etc). Which is very popular wherever there is a sizable Japanese community, and are very profitable for the Yakuza. These gambling establishments are also incredibly corrupt. Despite this the customers don't seem to mind and keep coming back. The Yakuza also runs numbers rackets (lotteries) in specific neighborhoods.
They try to get the non-Japanese gamblers interested in the games by using Japanese middle managers or executives who bring their "gaijin" employees into Yakuza gambling establishments to conduct "business meetings" or various social gatherings. They also run "exclusive" high-class gambling clubs which feature high-stakes games, real-time full-simsense feeds from Hong Kong, and exotic virtual entertainment.
In their home country, the Yakuza controlled the prostitution industry. Outside of Japan, the Yakuza revolutionized the sex trade. When entering a new market, a clan will construct a prostitution "industry" from scratch, rather than attempting to muscle in on an established prostitution market. They then will import their own "managers" and "talent" from another operation. Clans will usually only bring in 100 prostitutes to a new market to form the core of the syndicate.
Afterwards the "managers" begin to recruit from the prostitutes which already work the area. First they focus on independents, and the development of "pipelines" for the recruitment of prostitutes at train and bus stations. Then they start recruiting talent from other pimps, and will do so using a businesslike approach foregoing violence or intimidation unless the local prostitution rings strike back. After several months, their operation ends up controlling 60-80% of the business in the area.
It was the Yakuza which invented "bunraku" (meat puppets). In which they install specialized cyberware in the brains of the sex workers. This executes a neural cutoff and provides a direct-feed for persona-fix BTL chips. Making the subject unaware of what's going around him or her, or what is being done to him or her. Which is due to the subject being unconscious while the BTL controls the body.
Drugs & BTLs
The Yakuza claims that they don't have their hands in the "dirty" drug business, but that's a lie. It's pure public relations, which they learned from the megacorps. Drugs means nuyen, and nuyen always grabs the interest of the Yakuza.
The Yakuza has its claws in various legitimate corporations which produce pharmaceutical and entertainment products. Giving them the means to divert pharmaceuticals for the drug trade or produce illegal goods (BTL chips or designer drugs). They do run more BTLs than they do novacoke, opiates, ice, or any designer street drug but that is due to the shifts in market demand in the early decades of the Sixth World. Several of the Yakuza clans are involved in the production, transportation, and distribution of opiates. They've established and control opium fields in the Philippines.
Part of the reason the Yakuza are far more involved in the BTL trade than in drugs, is the fact that they did not control the opium fields of the Golden Triangle or China, which were in the hands of the Triads and continue to be so.
Sokaiya racket is the shakedown of Japanese corporations. In which they shake down small Japanese corporations, for money and influence. The Sokaiya (shareholders-meeting man) purchases good sized blocks of shares in the targeted companies, then extort them by violently disrupting their shareholder meetings and harassing the company's staff. Traditionally they operated only in Japan.
As of the 2050s, they set up operations in North America and are found wherever Japanese corporations are found, including Seattle, Boston, Atlanta, and New York City. Publicly the sokaiya bands are denounced by the Yakuza clans, but most of the bands operate with either the approval of the clan or its direction. Some of the sokaiya bands are led by high-ranking clan members.
Unlike many other crime syndicates, the Yakuza (like the Triads) will actually provide protection to the those that make protection payments (e.g. local businesses). They will work at reducing street crime on that street, block, community, or district.
The World of the Yakuza
The Clans and the Code
There is great variety among the Yakuza clans. Some of them are very traditional, strictly following the old ways. Some of them are supporters of the New Way, seeking to reform the Yakuza to make sure that it will survive and prosper in the Sixth World. Some are known for bending or breaking the rules, as long as it results in them earning a profit. The Yakuza follow an ancient code of honor which prevents the many clans from destroying each other. It is so strong that the most dishonorable of the clans usually stick to operating within the bounds which have been set by the other clans, to avoid being exterminated by a coalition of clans.
Yakuza at War
Turf wars among the Yakuza clans are incredibly brutal and bloody, though the Yakuza will go out of its way to limit collateral damage to "civilians". Unlike a Mafia hitman who may blow up a school to take out a rival don who decided to attend his child's parent-teacher night, the Yakuza hitman either won't take action or more likely will use a precision weapon to eliminate only the target.
Unfortunately, an increasing number of the less traditional Yakuza (and those who are under great pressure by rival syndicates) are no longer as concerned about minimizing collateral damage. The progressive clans are concerned only when collateral damage will hurt the clan.
Big 3 Yakuza Groups
Though there are many Yakuza syndicates, three of them are major international crime syndicates. The largest and most powerful Yakuza group is the Watada-rengo, which is a worldwide organization with branches in Southeast Asia, Europe, the UCAS, and Amazonia. The Four Oyaban Rengo is likewise a worldwide syndicate, through its control of the Mitsuhama Computer Technologies megacorporation. Shotozomi-rengo which is Watada-rengo's main rival, has branches in both North and South America.
External Alliances & Partnerships
Alliance with the Japanacorps
The Japanese mega corporations work closely with the Yakuza. Usually Yakuza operations won't experience Japancorp interference, as long as Yakuza operations remain within the guidelines which have been set by the Japanacorps. Sometimes the mega corporations will covertly assist the Yakuza when it comes with the police (e.g. by stating that a Yakuza operation is corporate business, thereby bringing corporate extraterritoriality into play). The Yakuza in turn provide the Japanacorprs with valuable shadow assets.
Mitsuhama Computer Technologies
The Yakuza have linked their fortunes to Mitsuhama Computer Technologies. The MCT uses the Yakuza on the streets to advance their interests and the Yakuza in turn use MCT to launder their money. Being inextricably tied together has greatly benefited both, though some Yakuza rengos are violently opposed to those who have such ties. Their association with MCT has given the Yakuza a ruthless efficiency.
Japanese Imperial State
Having right-wing political views, the Yakuza are patriotic criminals. They have worked alongside the Japanese military in the Philippines, the California Free State, and Peru. Though the Imperial Marines have withdrawn from all three countries, the Yakuza continues to serve Japan. The Yakuza perform assassinations and espionage for the imperial government and military.
Foreign Criminal Groups
Despite the bigotry among many Yakuza against other ethnic groups, the Yakuza are now working hand-in-hand with the new crime syndicates of Vietnam and Korea. In various cities in North America and Europe, the Yakuza have recruited gangs or hired them as muscle to serve the Yakuza on the streets or in the Matrix.
Being an organization full of clans and members who see metahumans as subhumans at best, it's not surprising that they support anti-metahuman organizations. One of the groups that has received financing from the Yakuza, among other things is Humanis.
Nations and City-States with Yakuza
- Japan, Korea, Henan, Coastal Provinces, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, Shan State, Pattani Islamic Republic, Javanese Republic,
- United Canadian and American States, California Free State, Tsimshian Nation, Algonkian-Manitou Council,
- Scandinavian Union, Austria, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Allied German States,
Rest of the World
Major Yakuza Factions
Global Rengo (Alliances)
Western Pacific Rengo (Alliances)
North American Rengo (Alliances)
Australian Rengo (Alliances)
- Saiki-rengo (defunct)
Sprawl Rengo (Alliances)
- Wanibuchi-rengo of Neo-Tokyo
- Yamaguchi-rengo of Washington, FDC
- Mizugumo-rengo of Washington, FDC
- Fuda-rengo of Washington, FDC
- Kihara-rengo of Nagasaki
Major Gumi (Clans)
- Nishidon-gumi (defunct)
- Shigeda-gumi (defunct)
Other Gumi (Clans)
- Hidenaga-gumi (defunct)
- Ichiga-gumi (defunct)
- Itami-gumi (defunct)
- Tokudiji-gumi (defunct)
Reality of a Yakuza Worldwide Empire
Yakuza in the West
Realistically, the Yakuza would be the most vulnerable of all crime syndicates to prosecution by law enforcement in the West. For the simple reason that it is the most highly structured and hierarchical criminal organization in the world, one that even has its own logos, business cards, and so on. It's only Japan's unique culture that permits this type of criminal organization to exist. If a Yakuza syndicate was to relocate to Seattle or New Jersey as in Shadowrun, it's members and bosses would soon find themselves behind bars.
Yakuza in the Developing Nations
If they relocated to an authoritarian regime, they would last only as long as the regime found them useful. Dictator, oligarchy, or junta decides they need a scapegoat or another crime syndicate is more useful, they turn on the Yakuza. Who would be rounded up and shot within hours. Dictatorship is overthrown, they would be prime targets for the revolutionaries for extermination. If its a third world democracy, unless all political parties that matter are in their pocket they are vulnerable if the party they don't control wins power.
Yakuza versus rivals Mafias
The only thing that would permit their overseas expansion and relocation in the Sixth World is the extraterritoriality laws that favor the megacorporations. Without the patronage and the protection of the Japanese megacorps and the Imperial Marines, there would not be a global Yakuza empire. Realistically the moment the Imperial Marines left Peru, San Francisco, and the Philippines the Yakuza would have been hunted down and exterminated (or prosecuted), except within the Japanacorp zones.
On the other hand the Vory grew and expanded under the rule of Stalin, and then his successors. They know how to survive oppression and even thrive in a police state. To them expanding and relocating to the West and thriving there, not a problem. The Triads are even more adapted to work in such environment as they are a secret society, and have proven themselves to be among the most flexible criminal organizations. It's why they have lasted so long, and have such a vast worldwide network. They would not need the crutch of extraterritoriality or a government that protects them.
Yakuza in the Real 21st Century
The Yakuza as of the early 21st century may be the 2nd wealthiest mafia after the Chinese mafia, and perhaps the third largest mob after the Triads and Russian mafia. They are not major players in the global underworld though, as they lack a transnational criminal networks focusing mostly on Japan itself or on bringing goods (drugs, weapons) and prostitutes into Japan. Within Japan, they face increasing competition from various foreign criminal syndicates and gangs, especially the Chinese Triads.
As of 2013, Yakuza had around 58,600 members which has been a big drop from the 80,000 members in 2011. As recently as 2010, the Yakuza controlled approximately $242 billion a year, in both the legal and underground economy. The oldest continuous Yakuza group is the Aizukotetsu-kai of Kyoto which was founded in the 1870s. The largest, wealthiest, and most powerful Yakuza group are the Yamaguchi-gumi of Kobe which as of the early 2010s had a yearly net revenue of $80 billion and approximately 23,400 members in 100s of gangs. Next are the Sumiyoshi-kai of Tokyo with 12,600 members and the Inagawa-kai of Tokyo with 9,100 members.
Activities of the Yakuza
In Japan, the police recognize and regulate the Yakuza. Which has offices, fortified headquarters, corporate logos, business cards, fan magazines, and badges. The Yamaguchi-gumi even have a newspaper for members only. It makes it money from drugs, racketeering, extortion, financial fraud, blackmail, stock market manipulation, and legitimate industries. They own companies and have investments in the sports industry, entertainment industry, television and film industry, construction industry, financial industry, and the information technology industry.
Yakuza provide labor and security for Japan's nuclear industry. They are involved in labor dispatch and currency exchanges. It has an an extensive network of people working in the hospitality industry ("hosts", escorts, and "hostesses") providing them with information that could be useful for illicit activities such as blackmail.  Traditionally they've taken at least a 2-3% cut of the spending on construction and up to 10%. Yakuza have traditionally hired the homeless to work on these construction projects.
The old Yakuza code has been fading as an increasing number of members are committing crimes that were seen as taboo, such as robbery and theft. Because of strict gun laws, the Yakuza doesn't use guns or at least not real ones. Firing a gun in Japan means a life sentence. Therefore guns are rarely used (for assassinations) and the hitter is someone willing to do life for the Yakuza.
Chinese Gangs in Japan
Currently the Yakuza has become reliant on the Chinese. The main source of the drugs for the Japanese market is China, either as manufacturers of amphetamines (produced by South Korean gangs under contract) or of methamphetamine produced by mainland Chinese syndicates and by North Korea and distributed by the Chinese triads. Inside Japan itself, the Yakuza have been outsourcing the running of drug markets and pachinko parlors to Chinese and Korean gangs. At the top of the human-smuggling networks are now the Chinese "Snakehead" gangs.
The Chinese gangs in Japan have shown themselves to be willing to defy and challenge the Yakuza, are better armed than the Yakuza (with firearms), and are far more willing to use violence in confrontations with the police. Despite this, the Yakuza have been relying on the Chinese gangs and non-Yakuza Japanese gangs to provide them with muscle on the streets. They are also increasingly using Chinese and Iranians as street dealers in the drug trade. The Yakuza groups have established working relationships with Chinese gangs to bring in the drugs into Japan, and in some of those relationships its the Chinese gangs which are the senior partner. Yakuza are more and more using Chinese hitmen for assassinations, including at least one sniper. Historically, crime syndicates that end up relying on criminal groups from other regions and ethnic groups sooner or later have ended up losing territory and/or markets to those groups.
Article forked from "Yakuza" on Wikipedia
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- Underworld Sourcebook p.39-40
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- Year of the Comet p.106
- Shadows of Asia p.180
- Sixth World Almanac p.176
- Sixth World Almanac p.129
- Sixth World Almanac p.206-207
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- Underworld Sourcebook p.54
- Shadows of Asia p.194
- Ghost Cartels p.107-110
- Mob War! p.62
- Underworld Sourcebook p.56
- Vice p.71-73
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- Shadows of Asia p.148
- Shadows of Asia p.170
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- Ghost Cartels p.102-107
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- Vice p.61-62
- Underworld Sourcebook p.46
- Sixth World Almanac p.129
- Underworld Sourcebook p.98
- Underworld Sourcebook p.57
- Vice p.66
- Vice p.68
- Schattenstadte p.195-196 (German version of Runner Havens)
- Shadows of Asia p.208
- Loose Alliances p.33
- Vice p.62-63
- Vice p.59
- Underworld Sourcebook p.39
- Street Magic p.15
- Underworld Sourcebook p.53
- Shadowrun Fifth Edition Core Rulebook p.34
- Emergence p.46
- Emergence p.36
- Emergence p.45
- Jet Set p.113
- Underworld Sourcebook p.39-40
- Underworld Sourcebook p.42
- Vice p.50
- Vice p.51
- Underworld Sourcebook p.47
- Vice p.53
- Vice p.54
- Corporate Enclaves p.101-103
- Vice p.45
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- Underworld Sourcebook p.50
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- 99 Bottles p.11
- Ghost Cartels p.89
- Shadowrun Missions: The Flip Side p.21
- Splintered State p.24
- Jet Set p.163
- Jet Set p.94
- Run Faster p.208
- Underworld Sourcebook p.92
- Underworld Sourcebook p.45
- State of the Art: 2064 p.142
- Underworld Sourcebook p.44
- Underworld Sourcebook p.19
- Underworld Sourcebook p.12
- Cyberpirates! p.63
- Vice p.71-73
- Underworld Sourcebook p.20
- Vice p.21
- Underworld Sourcebook p.41-42
- Shadowrun Fifth Edition Core Rulebook p.34
- Vice p.49
- Shadows of Asia p.187
- Shadows of Asia p.43
- Storm Front p.48-48
- Shadows of Asia p.172
- Shadows of Asia p.149
- Shadows of Asia p.154
- Shadows of Asia p.159
- Shadows in Focus: City by Shadow: San Francisco p.15
- Shadows of North America p.163
- Shadows of North America p.27-28
- Shadows of Europe p.36
- Shadows of Europe p.172
- Shadows of Europe p.196
- Shadows of Europe p.57
- Runner Havens p.127
- Shadows in Focus: City by Shadow: Metropole p.27
- Shadows of Asia p.196
- Target: Awakened Lands p.27
- Mob War!
- New Seattle
- Runner Havens
- Seattle Sourcebook
- Shadows of Asia, 43, 148-149, 154, 159, 172, 187, 196
- Target: Smuggler Havens, 54
- Target: Wastelands, 73
- Underworld Sourcebook, 39-40, 45-46
- Vice, 46-64, 86
- Corporate Enclaves, 97-103
- Shadows of North America, 163
- Target: Awakened Lands, 27
- Aztlan, 166
- Shadows of Europe, 36, 57, 172, 196
- Run Faster, 208
- Shadowrun Fifth Edition Core Rulebook, 34
- ?, 174-175
- Shadows of Latin America
- Ancient Files Mirror: Japanese Imperial State Draft (PDF) for the Sixth World Almanac by Robert Derie which is aka Ancient History.
- Ancient Files Mirror: Aztlan Draft (PDF) for the Sixth World Almanac by Robert Derie which is aka Ancient History.
Yakuza in the Real World
- Wikipedia: Yakuza
- Havoscope: Black Market Crime in Japan
- Stratfor: Organized Crime in Japan
- Lords of the Mafia, Episode 4, Japanese Yakuza