Hello, I'm Manabu Miyazaki. I have just been introduced. First of all thank you very much for inviting me to speak today. In 1995 I wrote a book called Toppamono, which is my autobiography. Thanks to the efforts of many friends of mine who decided to translate it into English, I have been able to publish this book in an English version, which you see before you today. And it is for this reason in part that I am having this press conference today. I want to tell you a little bit about the contents of this book.
I guess the main point about this book that I want to emphasize today goes back to the fact that I was born in 1945. With a little calculation you can realize that this year I am going to be 60 years old. So, from the year that World War II ended, I have been living in Japan. I wrote this book some years ago, actually about ten years ago. It was exactly 50 years after the end of the war. I really wanted to look back on my own life and get a personal perspective about how I had lived through the postwar period.
As many of you will be aware, there is currently a spirit of discussion in Japanese society led by many Japanese academics, particularly historians. They want to reassess or review the prewar period in Japan. In a similar vein, there are similar debates or discussions about how to view the 50 or 60 years after the war. In spite of all this discussion or debate, however, I don't think there is a single historian or academic that really discusses the history of Japan from the point of view of truth.
As an example of what I mean, after the Plaza Accord of 1985 we saw Japan enter a period of what we call now the bubble economy. There has been no one in Japan, whether it is a member of the government or the media who has really explained what the bubble was about and what the actual causes of the bubble were.
I was fortunate enough to have been on the ground in Japan during this postwar period. And it is what I saw and heard and felt during this period that I wrote about very honestly in this book.
When I say that I wrote about everything that I saw, I have put particular emphasis on writing about what we call the "outlaw" part of Japanese society. In other words, this is the society I was very much involved with ever since I was born, and so I have seen what has happened in this world very closely. As I mentioned, I wrote this book about ten years ago, so I am describing how outlaw society in Japan developed in the postwar period, in the 50 years following the end of World War II.
And of course, one of the things that I write about was a very famous incident, the Glico-Morinaga crime incident. Again, I was on the ground - or rather, my company was located very close on the ground to this incident - so I certainly did see a lot of things.
If an actual criminal does exist that realized the Glico-Morinaga crime I don't think it is a person who deliberately or of his own will did this crime. The reason I say that is because no one is foolish enough or pathetic enough to admit to such a crime.
In regard to specific incidents in the past 50 or 60 years of Japanese history, including the Glico-Morinaga incident, I would like to discuss these in detail in the question and answer session.
At the very end I would like to leave you with some words I am very fond of. It is sort of a Chinese poem, although it was written by a Japanese. But I truly believe in these words and I would like to explain them.
They were written by a man named Shusui Kotoku, an anarchist who was sentenced to the death penalty in 1910. Basically, his literal words were: "No matter how hard one's position is, how difficult life has become, I will never pray to God for forgiveness." After this man wrote these words, he was executed. He had been involved in an incident in 1910 called the "Taigyaku jiken," or "High Treason Incident." (This was an assassination attempt on the Meiji emperor; many people were rounded up and executed for the crime.)
The reason I love these words is that they really I think exemplify a very high state of spirit. Regardless of how difficult your situation may be, you never say, "Please God, help me." You preserve some dignity and pride.
Those are my concluding words. I would now like to turn to questions
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Legalization of Casinos
Q. There are moves to legalize casinos in Japan. Would this interfere with yakuza business? Would they control it?
If casinos are legalized it is said that they will not fall under the jurisdiction of the police departments, but would fall under the jurisdiction of METI, the Ministry of Economics, Trade and Industry. What this means is that if casinos are legalized, many customers will go to the casinos and not frequent pachinko parlors as much as they do now. Therefore the vested interests the police have in the pachinko parlors will not be worth as much. That is why they are so opposed to the legalization of casinos.
You asked if casinos are legalized whether the yakuza would end up gaining control over them. Originally the yakuza had the control, the vested interest, over pachinko parlors. The control of the pachinko industry was basically taken over by the police and former police who had gone to other jobs related to the pachinko industry, under "amakudari." So in Japan, if casinos are legalized, the yakuza will gain some control over this industry, but the way things work in Japan is that over time control of the industry will be taken over by the bureaucrats. This is the wonderful country that Japan is.
Q. In Japan, the yakuza has quite a romantic image. It is seen to embody some of the old spirit of Japan, the samurai spirit. Is this nonsense or is there some truth in this?
Suppose, for example, a murder takes place. If the murderer happens to be a Japanese yakuza, then in the ideal world of the yakuza, or the way things are supposed to be in the yakuza world, the murderer will take the pistol that was used in the crime and go by himself to the police and confess to the crime.
In other words, the yakuza have played a kind of complementary role to the police authorities since the Meiji Restoration (1868). This is the kind of fundamental rule or belief or principle that yakuza have traditionally lived by. At least this was the truth until 1992, the year the Organized Crime Countermeasures Law was passed in Japan.
So, for example, if you visited an organized crime group's offices before 1992, you would see on the wall the names of all of the members of the group inscribed. Each name would be individually printed on a small piece of wood about this size. If a person was in prison at the time, his wooden name tag would be reversed.
In other words, they did not feel the need to hide. It was not a secret organization. So, for example, because the police knew who belonged to what group, if some incident occurred and the police know who was involved in a particular crime, they would immediately send a police officer to that group office.
So, again, it was a situation where it was very open. The police officers knew all the names of the people that belonged to a particular group. These were the ways of living, or the rules by which yakuza ideally lived in the past. The word that is used is "bifu," which literally means "beautiful wind" [an admirable custom]. That was the ideal way in which yakuza should have lived.
However, things did change after 1992. The tendency has become for these organizations to become more secretive. This is, perhaps, an example of "global standards"!
Q. I have a very short question and then a longer question, both related to the Glico-Morinaga case, which you mentioned earlier. The short question is, is that your picture on the book or not? Because it is a police sketch of the criminal who was involved in the case. The statue of limitations is now expired, so please don't hold back...
A. This is actually a montage sketch that was released by the police when they were trying to find the criminal for this case. However, when my mother, who was alive at the time, saw it, her first reaction was, "Manabu, what did you do?" But then later she said, "You are much more handsome than that!"
Q. I also have a longer, more serious, question. Regarding this case, Mr. Ezaki of the Glico company was kidnapped from his bathtub. But he managed to escape about three days later. No harm was done to him. A man in a baseball cap went to a convenience store and put some Glico chocolate on the shelf. His picture was taken by a security camera. No one ate the chocolate with the poison and no one died. The gang tried to blackmail I believe a total of nine companies. There is no evidence that any of these companies paid money to the gang. And there is no real evidence that anyone died, except one of the policemen, who was responsible for investigating the case. He seemed to have died from a broken heart or overwork, I'm not sure which. So you had one of the most notorious crimes in Japanese history, with no victims. What was the purpose? Was the gang simply out to embarrass the police? Or do you think that they benefited in some other way?
A. I think that one comment I can make - and this holds true not only for Japan but for every other country of the world - is that the primary cause for a crime generally involves money.
As you have pointed out, in regard to this particular incident, there is no direct evidence or proof or history of any money actually being transferred from one party to another. I speak hypothetically, but the price of Glico stocks fell dramatically and when the police official declared that this incident was closed the prices shot up - so although no money was actually extracted directly from Glico, if a person or party with ample funds were to have advance information about this incident, they would be in a position to legally and safely get a great deal of money.
Also, in respect to another point that you made, which was that a man wearing a baseball cap went into a supermarket and was photographed, it was said that person resembled myself. That is simply not true. The reason is that I am a great fan of Hashin Tigers and that gentleman was wearing a Giants baseball cap. Regardless of what happens in my life, I would never be caught wearing a Giants cap!
Q. Following up on your comment just now, were you ever in your career a sokaiya (an extortionist who threatens to disrupt general stockholders meetings) or did you have close friends who were sokaiya? And if so, which group were you involved with?
A. I know, or at least I knew, many sokaiya groups. I say that in the past tense - although they were very numerous in the past they have almost disappeared. I want to make sure that there is no misunderstanding. I have a very happy and healthy relationship with outlaws in society both in Japan and throughout the world. And so, of course, as part of my network of friends or friendly relations, I do know lots of sokaiya or former sokaiya.
To be on the cautious side, I think I would be able to mention someone who has already passed away. Around the 1970s the most influential and powerful sokaiya group was a group called the Shimazaki group. The leader of this group was from Kyoto. When I was still a child in Kyoto this gentleman often visited our home and my father. This gentleman was father famous in these worlds for having created an incident at the annual general stockholders meeting of Mitsubishi Industries in the late 1970s.
At that time there was a movement called the "single stock" movement. The point of this was that Mr. Shimazaki was employed by Mitsubishi Industries, the company side, to put pressure on the stockholders. As you know, most listed companies on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and the stock exchanges in Japan until around the mid-1980s were very closely allied with sokaiya groups. However, after this the commercial code was revised and because of the revisions the sokaiya began to disappear. The problem, however, is that as the sokaiya began to disappear, the group that took their place were the police.
In other words, until then, the general affairs department of each company would be the window to negotiate with the sokaiya groups. With the revision of the commercial code in the mid-1980s, it was determined that if a company were found to have paid money to sokaiya groups, then members of the company side could actually be arrested and held legally responsible.
As I explained earlier, until then there had been the system in place where companies often used sokaiya groups. When you change the system, you suddenly have a system that can no longer be used, sokaiya come to the company and they complain. Then, in order to resolve the situation, another person, another force, comes out and says, "We will protect you." This leads to a new area for police officers to go to second jobs after they retire under amakudari ("descent from heaven").
If you want more information about this, if you go to my homepage I have some data. It is a little old, but it is still quite relevant. I have listed several hundred actual examples, listing specific names of former police officers who have gone to companies under amakudari and of the names of their companies as well.
The problem really becomes one for the company - which would be more profitable for the company? The relationship between the company and sokaiya usually means that once or twice a month companies are asked to purchase a kind of bulletin or newspaper printed by the sokaiya groups. So it is through the purchasing of these newsletters that the sokaiya groups make money. The subscription fees are not that enormous. They are about 50,000 yen to 100,000 yen per year. So even if a company bought news bulletins from 100 people, it would still only be 100 times that amount.
However, if one accepts a former police officer to a company or a subsidiary under amakudari there is already a system where the guaranteed annual salaries for these former police officials are already fixed. From what I have heard, for a non-career former police officer, the guaranteed salary is six million yen; for a former career bureaucrat the annual guaranteed salary is ten million yen.
Certainly, if a company were simply asked to take one police official, perhaps that would not be such a burden. It would be as much as they might pay for the relationship with the sokaiya. However, the reality now is that several career police officials are accepted into companies or subsidiaries each year. This means that although the companies started out thinking they could get rid of the sokaiya by having the protection of the police, they are finding that they are bearing a tremendous cost.
Q. I have several questions. First, regarding the fact that you mentioned that a lot of crimes are committed basically because of money. I remember hearing or reading an interview or conversation that you had with another gentlemen, Mr. Aoki. You described your own background and explained how after leaving college you ended up taking over your father's business and you were saddled with enormous debt. You talked about how the idea of having debt is more frightening than the police or the yakuza or anything else. I think that Japanese society's views on money have changed over the years. How do you view Japanese society and how they view money. That is the first question.
The second question is, in regard to yourself, you used to more or less represent the underside of Japanese society. But now you have become more or less center stage. You quite often appear on television. You have mentioned before that you have an annual income of about 30 million yen. But we also know, or you have also mentioned, that you have many young ladies throughout the country that you have to take care of. Would you like to comment in that regard.
And the last question is perhaps a little bit more serious. It concerns the fact that the Yamaguchi-gumi has a new head. Also, the Yamaguchi-gumi is making forays into the Tokyo area. How do you view the Yamaguchi-gumi?
You many recall five or six years ago in Kobe there was an event called the Sakakibara Incident. At that time, I was asked to comment on this by the media. My comment was that this was not an example of a crime committed by outlaw society. When outlaws commit a crime they look for a very clear purpose. It is either for honor or for money. That is what I would like to say in regard to some crimes being clear and some being not so clear.
With regard to the questioner, I think that you mentioned that right now we see an increase in crimes that involve money. For example, "ore, ore," ["it's me, it's me"] where people call elderly people on the phone, pretend to be someone else, and get them to pay lots of money into bank accounts. Of course, the people involved in such crimes are bad people, but I think the people deceived are even worse.
In other words, what I want to say is that, as I have said earlier, I think that most crimes have their causes in money. So, I don't think there is an increase in crimes that center around money.
I would now like to answer the second question. I have many members in my family, but I have no family home. That is my only comment.
In regard to your question about the Yamaguchi-gumi, it is without doubt that they will venture more into the Tokyo region. As it is, the sixth head of the Yamaguchi-gumi has now created a situation where there is great tension between the Yamaguchi-gumi and the members of the National Police Agency and the Metropolitan Police Agency.
I think there are two areas in which there is great tension now. One is due to the internal situation of the Yamaguchi-gumi. What I mean by the internal problem of the Yamaguchi-gumi is the sixth head of the Yamaguchi-gumi, a man named Mr. Tsukasa, is now involved in a criminal case before the Supreme Court. The Osaka High Court sentenced him to six years in prison and this is now being appealed in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is now deliberating the case. It is very likely, I believe, that the Supreme Court will support the ruling of the High Court, and Mr. Tsukasa will have no choice but to go to prison. The decision is expected sometime in October or November.
He is therefore under twin pressures to try and amalgamate or bring in as many other organizations into the Yamaguchi-gumi before he is sent to prison. When we talk about these amalgamations with other organizations, it is not like a business M&A where as long as you prepare the documents you can leave it in other people's hands and go off to prison. You need a kind of religious ceremony to seal the deals. And in order to make sure that before he goes to prison he can complete all the negotiations and have the religious ceremonies to cement everything, this is the time pressure he is under. He is trying to do this with as many organizations as early as possible.
This is the internal situation of the Yamaguchi-gumi. As you know, the current head is the sixth leader of the Yamaguchi-gumi. He was just recently given his powers from the fifth head. During the reign of the fifth head of the Yamaguchi-gumi is said that the relations between the Yamaguchi-gumi and the police were very smooth. As an example, when there was a very special event such as the Emperor visiting a special athletic event, or the Crown Prince and Princess moving from the Tokyo Imperial Palace to the Nasu summer resort area, the police would traditionally always issue a notification to the Yamaguchi-gumi asking them to avoid staging any arguments, quarrels or any kind of conflicts in that area. The fifth head of the Yamaguchi-gumi always abided by these notifications. There is no guarantee, however, that the current sixth head will follow the requests of the police in this way. In fact, members of the police have a sense of impending crisis perhaps, as it is very likely the sixth head will not abide by the police.
These are very serious matters for the police. For example, if the Emperor makes a visit to a national athletic event and on that day in the vicinity there is the sound of a pistol being fired, then automatically the head of police department in that prefecture will have to resign. So, rather than worrying about the safety of the general public, the police are worried about their own necks. The Yamaguchi-gumi is very worried because they are worried about their own internal situation.
As you may know, the Yamaguchi-gumi has recently brought under its wing a very old yakuza group called the Kokusui-kai, based in Tokyo. The Kokusui-kai group has had as its territory the areas in Tokyo of Yoshiwara, Asakusa, Shimbashi, Ginza, Shibuya and Roppongi. However, this organization was much smaller than the other major yakuza organizations in Tokyo such as the Sumiyoshi-kai and the Inagawa-kai. In the past there has been a situation where Kokusui-kai, because it is much smaller than the other organizations, has lent part of its territories to, for example, the Sumiyoshi-kai.
Just because the Kokusui-kai has now come under the umbrella of the Yamaguchi-gumi doesn't mean that Sumiyoshi-kai and Inagawa-kai - the other Tokyo yakuza organizations, which have traditionally borrowed some of its territories - are going to give up these territories and allow them to go back to either Kokusui-kai or now its parent organization, the Yamaguchi-gumi. In other words, you can see that there is a very high potential for conflict arising.
Q. I would like to know how the political and economic influence of the yakuza has changed over the last 15 years since the (Organized Crime Countermeasures) law came into being.
A. I would like to take the opportunity to talk a little bit about the relationship between Japanese yakuza and politicians. I think you will all know that Prime Minister Koizumi's grandfather was famous for having many tattoos on his body. Tattoos were of course traditionally the area of the world of the yakuza. In other words, Prime Minister Koizumi's grandfather was originally was in the "tobi" occupation (steeplejacks or construction workers who work on scaffolding).
My father was also in the tobi occupation. Basically these kinds of work were the easiest kind of work for a person from the yakuza field. In other words, it was the easiest way for them to make money.
Another example of the relationship between traditional yakuza and politicians is exemplified by a man named Mr. Isokichi Yoshida, from Kyushu. He also had tattoos all over his body. He was also a member of the Diet. Because he came from the island of Kyushu he was very much involved in the main industries in Japan at that time ? in other words, the steel industry and the coal mining industry. To explain that more simply, yakuza were instrumental in supporting the most fundamental part of the Japanese economy, and the most charismatic of these leaders in yakuza groups eventually rose after World War II to become Diet members. This tradition continued until 1992.
Just before 1992 many incidents occurred. One is the "Praise To Death" (homegoroshi) Incident perpetrated by the Kominto group. This is a group that highly praised in a very sarcastic way Mr. Takeshita, who became prime minister later.
After this, in 1992 to 1993, Inagawa-kai was involved in buying up a great deal of Tokyu stocks. Also, in 1996, Yamaguchi-gumi again made a run on Club Okura stocks - they purchased more than five percent of the outstanding stocks. These were incidents that we could see, that made public the relationship between the yakuza and the economy.
The relationship between yakuza and politicians has always been complex. It became even more complex after 1992. There are many reasons for this. One is that the electoral system changed. With the adoption of the single-seat electoral district system, the votes controlled by yakuza in these small districts became even more important than before. As a result, we saw after 1992 more politicians actually visiting the offices of the yakuza to ask for their help and support in elections, we saw more yakuza being asked to purchase party tickets for politicians, and we saw more yakuza actually coming to these parties.
However, relations between yakuza and politicians are not only complex but they do not always go so smoothly. I have heard of incidents where a former police career bureaucrat who became politician with the support of yakuza was asked to help when a yakuza was involved in a crime, was involved in some kind of trouble with the police. The politician offered to help and he took money in return for this help, but he ended up doing nothing, which led to further conflicts between the yakuza and these politicians.
In fact, from the way that I have seen things develop, when we talk about the relationship between yakuza and politicians, there have been almost no cases in which yakuza have been able to exploit or use politicians for their own benefit. I think the reality is that although yakuza have really not been able to reap much benefits from associating with politicians they still feel that it is probably safer and wiser to be near the source of political power. In other words, to cultivate and support politicians, in order that if they or one of their associates get arrested they can cling to the hope that maybe this politician will help them out. It is a kind of insurance, perhaps.
Q. First time I heard about yakuza was in Marseilles in the south of France. At that time, in the 1970s, people were talking [taking?] drugs, and we heard a lot about Italians, Corsicans and also French mafia. And also from that point I heard about yakuza involvement in drug issues - heroin in Southeast Asia and so on. My question is not a domestic issue but an international issue - foreign operations, I mean. How can we say that the yakuza are involved on the foreign scene? Are you aware they do this - for example, foreign companies, foreign politicians or foreign institutions?
A. When we talk about the international activities of the yakuza, certainly the yakuza have had a long tradition of being involved in certain areas, especially Asian countries, specifically, Taiwan and Hong Kong. They have been very active there. And in the past they have not really operated by themselves but in tie-ups with local members of outlaw society. They have been involved, for example, from time to time, in the importation of firearms and stimulant drugs. From the 1980s they have been involved in the human trafficking market known as "Japa-yuki" (people going to Japan). In that sense, yakuza have had relationships with other mafia-like organizations in other countries.
In fact, many of the local yakuza coming from Japan can go to local areas and find yakuza groups that have been active in that area for three or four generations. It is said if they were to pull out all of the money they had saved up in local banks, probably that would cause three or four banks to fail. It is that kind of massive funds amassed over time.
What I am trying to say is that there is so much money involved that these kinds of monies cannot be transferred secretly. In other words, in order to transfer these kinds of funds, you have to find legal ways. That of course means that you have to create companies and establish companies, work through companies.
Take the example of business with Russia. You find that fish that are caught in the seas around Hokkaido are sold. The actual exchange of fish occurs on boats, but in order to make this transfer of funds legal the Japanese yakuza create, for example, a fishing company or a boat company.
However, there is a problem. When these purchases are made on these boats and the fish are transferred from one boat to another, you will always have a representative of the Russian bureaucracy attending. Ten years ago, the Russian bureaucrat that would be the representative attending this transfer was the person in charge of preserving marine resources. Over time, however, there was another person from another bureau that attends these meetings, a member of the Russian Marine Forces. Again, more time passes and you have another bureaucrat, a customs officer.
What this means is that originally the yakuza only had to pay one department when it made its purchases, but now he has three different departments he has to pay. Despite this, however, because this is basically under the table money, there is still a profit to be made. But what they are doing of course is illegal. Purchasing the fish is a legal activity, but paying these bureaucrats under the table is illegal. The only group that can make these transactions, however, is yakuza.
Once this fish has been purchased, the yakuza can sell them to clean, impeccable food-processing companies. Right now the yakuza has a monopoly in this area, but I think it is only going to be a matter of time before the police takes that over too!
Q. Could you explain a little bit for institutions -- not just fishing issues, but associations, firms?
A. I'll give you the simplest example - Japan Airlines. JAL had an accident in a place called Osutakayama. There was a member of a yakuza group that was on that plane. There was therefore trouble between the yakuza group and JAL. Because there was a problem, there was a need to resolve it. Of course, JAL immediately said it would pay compensation money to the relatives of the deceased. Of course, the yakuza would say you have to pay more than that. There was conflict between the two groups for a very long time.
Separately from that, there was a problem JAL had with sokaiya groups. Even now it is said that one of the leading stockholders of JAL is a person famous in the Yamaguchi-gumi organization. He is believed to have a million shares in JAL.
The way that JAL approached this problem was similar to the example I gave you before of how companies try to get rid of sokaiya - in other words, they turn to politicians, they turn to the police department for help.
JAL was a company that had many unions and the relationship between the company and the labor unions was very complex. What JAL decided to do was to ask Mr. Shizuka Kamei, the politician, for his help. Mr. Kamei had been minister of transportation. This is going to be a tangential story, but when Mr. Kamei was the minister of transportation, there was a conflict between JAL and its labor unions, specifically, the flight attendants. JAL wanted to make them all part-time workers. That was JAL's wish. But Mr. Kamei supported the flight attendants, saying these people are in charge of securing the safety of their passengers' lives and they cannot be part-time workers.
The result of all this is that part of the flight attendants did become part-time workers. But Mr. Kamei also had his wife form a maintenance company that serviced JAL planes, and this company basically solved all of the outstanding problems between JAL and the yakuza groups.
Q. A very simple question. What is the status of the relationship between the yakuza and Chinese gangs in Tokyo?
A. There are two answers to your question. If we look at Tokyo, especially the Kabuki-cho area of Shinjuku, members of the Chinese mafia are paying royalties to the Japanese yakuza. That is one answer.
There is also an organizational relationship. So far it is not a very deep one. I think there have been numerous cases of individual jobs that the Chinese mafia and the Japanese yakuza have cooperated on, but it has not developed into a really deep relationship yet.
A. There have already been some cases where violence has erupted. Japanese yakuza have been killed and Chinese mafia members have been killed. All of this has occurred in the past three years or so.
(MM) Actually, I would like to ask one question of you as to how I fundamentally think of yakuza. Do you think a country would be if it didn't have yakuza?
(Journalist) Are you asking me directly? I have never personally been affected by the presence of yakuza in Japan or the East End mafia in London. So as far as I am personally concerned it isn't a problem. That is as far as I am willing to go at the moment.
(MM) I personally love Asia and I have traveled throughout Asia. Of course, because I was born in 1945 all I have seen is after the war. I think there are two countries in Asia where yakuza have never been and still do not exist - Cambodia under the reign of Pol Pot and North Korea. Wonderful countries, aren't they? So that is how I view the yakuza. The ideal world in my eyes is a bright and happy society that also includes yakuza.
Q. When you wrote your book, what period of your life gave you the most pleasure to recall?
A. 1968. This was the time during the Vietnam War when throughout the world there were anti-war demonstrations and movements by students. I think that was the most pleasurable time of my life when I look back on it.