members of traditional transnational organized crime syndicates in Japan

Yakuza (Japanese: ヤクザ, IPA: [jaꜜkɯza]), known also as gokudō (極道, "the extreme path", IPA: [gokɯꜜdoː]), are members of transnational organized crime syndicates in Japan.

Marukin at Sanja Matsuri 3.jpg
Yakuza members displaying their status at Sanja Matsuri
Founded17th century
(presumed to have originated from the Kabukimono)
Membershipmore than 200,000 members[1]
Criminal activitiesVaried, including illegitimate businesses

Yakuza call themselves ninkyō dantai (chivalrous organizations) which the Japanese media and police call them bōryokudan (violence group). They are the world's largest criminal organization and have about 103,000 members.[2][3] The three biggest Yakuza families are Yamaguchi-gumi, Sumiyoshi-kai, and Inagawa-kai. During the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, they opened their offices to help refugees and sent dozens of trucks with supplies to affected areas.[4]


  1. "Police of Japan 2017, page 22" http://www.npa.go.jp/english/kokusai/pdf/Police_of_Japan_2017_full_text.pdf Archived 2018-10-01 at the Wayback Machine
  2. "US Treasury Freezes Assets Of Top Gangsters From Around The World". Business Insider. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  3. "Kiyoshi Nakabayashi: Ex-Tokyo cop speaks out on a life fighting gangs — and what you can do". Japan Times. 6 November 2011. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  4. Adelstein, Jake (18 March 2011). "Yakuza to the Rescue". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2014-01-20.

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