Japanese Yakuza cancels Halloween

A participant in costume poses for a picture after a Halloween parade in Kawasaki, south of Tokyo
A participant in costume poses for a picture after a Halloween parade in Kawasaki, south of Tokyo

When people think about the Japanese Yakuza, seldom do images of generosity and smiles on the faces of children everywhere come to mind. It is after all one of the most organized crime rings in the world. You may be surprised to know the group actually does hold a massive annual Halloween party and hand out candy to children in the community, but sadly this year’s event is cancelled!

Unfortunately the group’s biggest crime syndicate, Yamaguchi-gumi, expelled thousands of members over the weekend who proved to be disloyal to the group’s leader, Shinobu Tsukasa. Those people have now created their own group, Yamaken-gumi, headed by a 67-year-old now rival member.

Japanese media, the general public and people within both groups suspect that a split of -his magnitude is going to lead to bloodshed and violence similar to what happened in the mid-1980s, when a split led to the arrest of over 500 people within the organization and 20 different murders over a three year span. It’s good to know that amid all the crime and violence that comes along with living life on the dark side, some of the most violent gangsters in the world still care about keeping children safe on Halloween night.

When you think about it, it’s actually kind of crazy that a group commonly associated with violence and the need to accrue money by whatever means necessary would even throw a party for the community. In this case it’s all part of an attempt to improve the group’s image in the eyes of the media and the public. Aside from that it shows that no matter what group people choose to form, there is always a basic code of ethics or at least a few unwritten rules to abide by. Even if that group rakes in over $6.6 billion in revenue from drugs, gambling and extortion.

Halloween is certainly about trick-or-treating and getting up close and personal with horrific and scary sights, but gang violence is one type of horror that children and their parents don’t need to be exposed to. If something were to happen, the leaders of both groups could have a bounty over their heads, which would spawn even more violence.

Remember kids… don’t stay out too late and make sure you have an adult with you to guide you on Halloween night. Thank goodness we Canadians don’t have to worry about members of the Yakuza popping up in our neighbourhoods this week. That is unless of course somebody feels like being a mini Shinobu Tsukasa for Halloween.