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Japanese Mafia Has Its Own Magazine

Looking to boost morale, the Japanese crime syndicate is putting out a magazine

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The symbol of the Yamaguchi-gumi, the largest yakuza family and the ones who put out their new magazine. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Just like in the U.S. the publishing industry in Japan is plummeting. But there’s one organization that’s not afraid to join the fray and step into this dangerous market: the yakuza. The Yamaguchi-gumi, one faction of Japan’s multifaceted and sprawling criminal underground, says New York Daily News, has started publishing its own magazine—for insiders only. The Daily News:

The largest and most fearsome group of yakuza members had been facing difficulties with new anti-gang laws, diminished ranks, and bad publicity, and apparently saw fit to boost morale with a professionally-produced magazine.

Japanese criminal organizations, just like media organizations, it seems, are shrinking. “Last year total membership of the yakuza stood at 62,300, down 7,100 from the previous year, according to the national police agency,” says the Guardian, down still from the 84,000 reported by The Economist in 2009. However accurate those exact numbers actually are, the point is clear, the yakuza is hemorrhaging, and they’re looking to reshape their image and boost morale.

The magazine, known as the Yamaguchi-gumi Shinpo, says the Guardian, “may not succeed in recruiting members, but it at least offers light relief to those already leading lives of crime. Along with senior members’ diaries of recent fishing trips, there is a section devoted to satirical haiku and pieces on the strategic board games of go and shogi.”

More from Smithsonian.com:

Prosthetic Pinkies for Former Yakuzas Are a Booming Business

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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