Diapers from Japan’s mafia
The yakuza stepped in quickly to provide tsunami relief, and are reaping the benefits
Whether it’s about removing tonnes of debris from flattened coastal villages or erecting new homes and office buildings, the yakuza, Japan’s entrenched mafia, is reportedly winning lucrative contracts for all sorts of public projects in the aftermath of the March earthquake and tsunami.
Hours after the ﬁrst shock waves, unlabelled trucks loaded with “paper diapers, instant ramen, batteries, ﬂashlights, drinks” and other essentials arrived in the hard-hit Ibaraki and Fukushima prefectures, according to Jake Adelstein, a Japan-based journalist and a leading expert on the country’s criminal underworld. Unloading the vehicles were men wearing long sleeves and gloves to conceal tattoos and missing fingers, the classic trademarks of yakuza members.
Few quake victims, including local politicians, failed to notice that crime syndicates reached out faster than Tokyo officials. Now, it seems, Japan’s godfathers are getting their payback.
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