The Yamaguchi-gumi, one of Japan’s largest Yakuza clans, has this year been officially banned from giving out sweets to Halloween trick-or-treaters.
Though Halloween customs are a slowly-growing tradition in Japan, trick-or-treating was brought into the spotlight in certain areas of Japan by the Yakuza in 2013, when the Yamaguchi-gumi clan began handing out sweets at their Kobe headquarters. They would invite children dressed in Halloween costumes to step inside the gates of their complex, where they would receive bags of sweets and snacks. However, there will be no treats this year – and, surprisingly, it’s not coronavirus to blame this time.
A bill was first submitted by local police to the prefectural assembly in July, seeking legislation to make it illegal for organized crime groups to give money or gifts to under-18s. They stated fears that a turf war could erupt at any time, as there has been a significant increase in gang violence in Hyogo (of which Kobe is the capital city) since the latter months of 2019. A breakaway yakuza group was formed in 2015 amid internal rows over boss Kenichi Shinoda (also known as Shinobu Tsukasa), and relations have been volatile ever since.
Earlier this week, the state (or prefecture) assembly of Hyogo voted without exception to revise the Organized Crime Exclusion Ordinances, adding provisions that make it illegal for any criminal organization to give gifts (monetary or otherwise) to minors, invite them onto the grounds of their facilities, or correspond with them. Exceptions can be made for “legitimately justifiable reasons,” but handing out snacks in a blatant attempt to court favor with minors doesn’t qualify, legislators say.
The legal revision will come into force on 26 October – just in time for Halloween.
Hyogo is the first prefecture in Japan to spell out specific punishments. Repeat offenders can expect to face up to six months jail time, or a fine of up to 500,000 yen (approx $4,815)
The Yamaguchi-gumi, which once accounted for around half of all Japan’s gang members, was estimated to be worth $6.6billion in its heyday. They are now thought to have about 8,900 members, according to the National Police Agency.
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