Fears are rising in Japan that a large-scale gang war could erupt, following a major schism in the yakuza organized crime syndicate. Cyber-crime might be making headlines today, but this is a reminder that "traditional" organized crime is still strong. And scary. Here's a look at what's happening in five criminal networks around the world.
JAPAN: YAKUZA DANGEROUS SPLIT
In late August, 13 out of the 72 gangs that form the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan's largest yakuza organization, decided to form a breakaway group after their members were expelled for disloyalty towards the syndicate leader, Shinobu Tsukasa, the daily Mainichi Shinbun reports. The new gang, which according to Kyodo News will call itself the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi and continue using the same logo, will have about 3,000 members, far fewer than their former parent group, which boasts more than 23,000 members.
Authorities in Japan are afraid this split could spark violent clashes between the different gangs, as a similar breakup did in the past. In 1984, when the Ichiwa-kai gang seceded from the Yamaguchi-gumi, subsequent clashes left 25 dead, more than 70 injured and 500 arrests. Revenge by yakuza syndicate on renegades often include severed limbs.
The yakuza, which Fortune magazine says is worth $80 billion, has largely been tolerated, seen as a way to keep petty crime low. But with the latest fractures in the group, some Japanese media outlets have been appealing for more pressure. An editiorial in the daily Asahi Shimbun, said that "society should seize the day, squeeze the yakuza."