Hikaru Hayashi: In the land of the rising sun there’s an old adage, that you don’t want to be the nail that sticks out, and that seems to be the case here in Tokyo for the yakuza. Until now, paying off the gangsters was just another cost of doing business in Tokyo. But now, police are hoping the threat of jail time will make the cost of joining hands with the yakuza too much to bear. I’m here with Koji Tachibana, director of global communications at the Prime Minster’s Office. Mr. Tachibana, is this the end of the road for the yakuza money-machine, the so-called nine-fingered economy?
Koji Tachibana: Hello. Well, first off, this is not a matter for the national government, it’s a matter for each municipality.
Hikaru Hayashi: Why is that?
Koji Tachibana: Well, it’s the nature of Japan. Local governments have been able to move faster than the central government. And while it’s too early to say how effective these individual measures will be, yes, they are concrete steps toward an effective end to the scourge of anti-social elements.
Hikaru Hayashi: Some might say that anti-gang legislation stalled nationally when the Yamaguchi-gumi syndicate paid ¥5 million to an adviser to the Prime Minister. Would you agree?
Koji Tachibana: I don’t know who might say such things. This sounds like sensationalism typical of foreigners, who rarely understand Japanese language let alone the culture. Present company excepted, of course. And if I may say, the press would get it right if they didn’t apply foreign rules to Japanese ways.
Hikaru Hayashi: You didn’t answer my question.
Koji Tachibana: There is no question to answer.
Hikaru Hayashi: Well, we asked four people on the streets of Tokyo what they thought: Will a law to ban doing business with yakuza make a difference?
Man on street 1: I think it’s good. But it may be bad. Because wouldn’t that just make the yakuza angry?
Woman on street 1: They are not all bad, the yakuza. They helped after the Kobe earthquake to give out aid when the government couldn’t. It’s not black and white.
Man on street 2: If laws made any difference, they’d make it illegal to pass laws.
Woman on street 2: Japan is a safe country. There’s hardly any crime and you can leave your wallet on the train and someone will hand it in. That’s because we follow laws.
Hikaru Hayashi: This is Hikaru Hayashi reporting from Tokyo.
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That was a chapter of Half Life: A Hana Walker Mystery. I’m publishing a chapter a day in sequence on this blog to promote the book. You can buy HALF LIFE as a paperback from Create Space here or as a Kindle download from any Amazon site including links to the book here at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.co.jp.
The sequel, Prime Life, is coming out in the New Year.