Yakuza to the rescue?

Reuters reports that Japan’s infamous notorious organized crime network has been active in the earthquake relief effort: Yakuza groups have so far dispatched at least 70 trucks to the quake zone loaded with supplies worth more than $500,000 (311,000 pounds), according to Jake Adelstein, an expert on yakuza who lives in Tokyo and is writing ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
Frank Zeller/AFP/Getty Images
Frank Zeller/AFP/Getty Images
Frank Zeller/AFP/Getty Images

Reuters reports that Japan's infamous notorious organized crime network has been active in the earthquake relief effort:

Yakuza groups have so far dispatched at least 70 trucks to the quake zone loaded with supplies worth more than $500,000 (311,000 pounds), according to Jake Adelstein, an expert on yakuza who lives in Tokyo and is writing two books on the Japanese syndicates.

The gangs' charity is rooted in their "ninkyo" code, Adelstein says, which values justice and duty and forbids allowing others to suffer. "In times such as earthquakes, they put their money where their mouths are," he said.

Reuters reports that Japan’s infamous notorious organized crime network has been active in the earthquake relief effort:

Yakuza groups have so far dispatched at least 70 trucks to the quake zone loaded with supplies worth more than $500,000 (311,000 pounds), according to Jake Adelstein, an expert on yakuza who lives in Tokyo and is writing two books on the Japanese syndicates.

The gangs’ charity is rooted in their “ninkyo” code, Adelstein says, which values justice and duty and forbids allowing others to suffer. “In times such as earthquakes, they put their money where their mouths are,” he said.

Atsushi Mizoguchi a freelance writer and yakuza antagonizer who has written about organized crime for 40 years, also gives the yakuza the benefit of the doubt.

“Rather than a PR effort, I think it’s actually good intentions,” said Mizoguchi, who has angered the yakuza so much that he has been stabbed twice in attacks by gang members.

The obvious parallel here is the the role Pakistani extremist groups played in the relief effort after the 2005 Kashmir earthquake and 2010 floods. (Though the extent of that role is disputed.)

Check out an excerpt from Adelstein’s Tokyo Vice on The Cable from last year. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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