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date: 20 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This essay gives an empirical overview of the main trends in the business activities, organizational structures, and inter- and intragroup relationships of Japanese organized crime (essentially monopolized by groups known collectively as yakuza) over the late 20th and early 21st centuries. It argues that the main drivers of yakuza evolution throughout this period have been economic market opportunities and the legal environment in which these groups operate. Over recent decades more effective law-enforcement has encouraged yakuza diversification into a wide range of business activities on both sides of the law. While the yakuza remain surprisingly visible in comparison to equivalent groups in other modern industrial democracies, they are steadily adopting a lower profile. They remain, however, a significant and pernicious presence within the Japanese economy.

Keywords: yakuza, organized crime Japan, Asia, extortion, criminal organizations

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