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Organized Crime in Japan and the US Research Paper



Organized crime is defined as the indulgence in unlawful activities for purposes of gaining monetary gains. Organized crimes may be carried out within a city, a state, or internationally. Organized crimes disrupt peace and security and it tampers with the victims’ rights (Lyman & Potter, 2000). Examples of organized crimes include terrorism, weaponry, drug and human trafficking, money laundering, murder, labor racketeering, gambling, and prostitution among other crimes.

Organized crimes have no specific victim group, which means that anyone can become a victim of the crimes. However, the perpetrators of organized crimes capitalize on the vulnerable members of the society, who live below or slightly above the poverty line. This assertion holds because organized crimes are mostly economic in nature, and thus they rely heavily on human resources. For example, in drug trafficking, criminals will capitalize on individuals who are desperate for jobs and quick money.

The perpetrators of such crimes also target influential members of the society who can be compromised easily in exchange for their silence. Such members include police officers, members of the judiciary and legislature, and politicians. Such people’s silence is bought through partnerships in the criminal activities, bribery, and blackmail.

The type of harm arising from organized crime varies from one crime to another. The harm can be classified as economic, emotional, physical, intellectual, and political due to the loss of revenue, torture, murder, brainwashing, and compromised governance.

Comparative Analysis: The US vs. Japan

In the United States, criminal gangs engaging in organized crimes are referred to as ‘Mafias’. The scope of operations of mafias is both at the national and transnational levels. For a very long time, there was estimated to be around twenty-six mafia families operating strongly across the US and Canada.

Many of the criminal families are associated with cities and they have their base within the specific regions. The gangs are from Buffalo in New York, Dallas in Texas, Chicago in Illinois, and Detroit in Michigan among other regions. Mafias in most of these regions engage in activities like loan sharking, gambling, drug trafficking, prostitution, and labor racketeering among other criminal activities with economic value (Kaplan & Dubro, 2003).

In Japan, the main criminal gang engaging in organized crimes is known as the Yakuza. Unlike in the United States where the mafias are an outlawed group, the Yakuza are not outlawed entirely. The Japanese authorities have only come up with jurisprudences referred to as the anti-Yakuza laws, which are meant to constrain and obstruct the group’s activities without necessarily banning the group.

The operations of the group in international levels are negligible and it mainly operates in large scale within Japan. This assertion holds because most Asian countries have outlawed the group. For example, in Thailand, the Yakuza members are killed mysteriously, while in the Philippines members suspected to be from the group have been denied entrance to the country (Gragert, 2010).

In the US and Japan, the organized crime gangs differ in terms of control on the economy. For instance, the US mafias do not have a direct control of the US economy because the grouping has been outlawed by the US legislations. However, in Japan, the Yakuza’s control on the Japanese economy is estimated to be worth twenty trillion Japanese yen, which is approximately two hundred and forty-two billion dollars (Gragert, 2010). Statistics shows that roughly over 80,000 Yakuza members control the economy actively (Gragert, 2010).

The US mafias normally conduct their activities in deep secrecy. Communication between the gangs is conducted through the word of mouth in most instances to avoid leaving any traceable evidence that can implicate them (Abadinsky, 2010).

Unlike the mafias, the Yakuza are an open group that even operates a website. The Yakuza bosses are also not fugitives. In addition, “the addresses and phone numbers of the headquarters of the majority of the gang’s operations are publicly available” (Gragert, 2010, p. 160). The Yakuza also own both weekly and monthly magazines through which they glorify their exploits (Gragert, 2010).

The prevalence of the activities of the US mafias is moderate. In a report on national incidents of organized crimes for the year 2005 published by the US Department of Justice in conjunction with the Bureau of Justice Statistics and National Crime Victimization Survey, statistics showed that there was a steady decline over the years in the number of organized crimes (Caneppele & Calderoni, 2014).

The crime highly conducted by the mafias was labor racketeering with one thousand two hundred and forty-five incidences reported all over the country. The second crime was money laundering with one thousand one hundred incidences reported countrywide (Caneppele & Calderoni, 2014). The report also indicated that there was a gradual decline in incidences of drug trafficking and use of violence by the gangs.

In Japan, statistics shows that there has been a steady decline in the illegal operations of the Yakuza (Gragert, 2010). Reports by the police show that over the past ten years, there has been a steady decline in activities such as extortion, theft, assault, blackmail, robbery, blackmail, pornography, and prostitution. The report also states that there is a tremendous decline in shooting incidences involving the Yakuza (Gragert, 2010).

The American and Japanese justice systems are keen on ensuring that justice is served to the victims of organized crimes. Both countries have come up with legislations that are meant to ensure that the perpetrators of the crimes are punished effectively. Over the years in Japan, there have been numerous arrests and prosecution of the Yakuza gang members. However, the US has a better and more advanced system with functional structures to tackle the organized crime menace.

The Organized Crime and Gang Section has managed to oversee the arrest, prosecution, and conviction of gangsters with the recent case being the trial, conviction, and sentencing of the leader of a loan sharking ringleader that operated several businesses in Philadelphia in June 2015 (Department of Justice, 2015). The zealous fight against these groups by both governments has led to the gangs cowing and reducing their activities largely. Members of the society can now report suspected gangsters without the fear of intimidation.

The major cost to the American and Japanese societies where organized crimes are prevalent is the imminent threat to peace and security to the members of society and the violation of human rights by the gangs in the course of their activities. The criminal acts of these gangs also undermine the economic, social, and political development of the societies within which they are practiced.

The main impact of organized crimes to both primary and secondary victims in the US and Japan is insecurity, loss of lives, torture, and the violation of human rights through involuntary slavery, forced labor and exploitation, drug addiction prevalence, loss of revenue by governments, and compromised governance.

The cultural implication of organized crimes in the US and Japan is the existence of an insecure society whose members thrive on crime and drug addictions, thus causing erosion of morals and deterring growth and development. Therefore, children growing in areas where such crimes are prevalent may end up joining the gangs.

Organized crimes in the US and Japan are characterized by certain trends and patterns. These trends and patterns include the increased global consumption of drugs, the existence of porous borders, and weaponry trafficking. The profiles of organized criminals often reflect highly organized and smart people. In most cases, the victims are individuals living in poverty.


Organized crimes in Japan and the US have been in existence for a long time. The crimes change with time and technology advancement. Therefore, the authorities should have renewed commitment to fight organized crimes at whatever cost. Governments should concentrate on curbing the spread of organized crimes.


  • Organized crime is now a global challenge, and thus governments need to work collaboratively in a bid to curb the crime. Governments should be ready to extradite fugitives of organized crimes residing in their territories.
  • Governments should embrace technology in the fight against the evolving nature of organized crime.
  • Underfunding is one of the greatest challenges stalling the war against organized crimes in the US and Japan. Therefore, the American and Japanese governments should increase funding in this area in a bid to match the ever-changing nature of organized crimes.


Abadinsky, H. (2010). Organized crime. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

Caneppele, S., & Calderoni, F. (2014). Organized Crime, Corruption and Crime Prevention. New York, NY: Springer.

Department of Justice: . (2015). Web.

Gragert, B. (2010). Yakuza: The Warlords of Japanese Organized Crime. Annual Survey of International & Comparative Law, 4(1), 147- 204.

Kaplan, E., & Dubro, A. (2003).Yakuza: Japan’s criminal underworld. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Lyman, M., & Potter, G. (2000). Organized crime. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Organized Crime in Japan and the US." May 6, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/organized-crime-in-japan-and-the-us/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Organized Crime in Japan and the US'. 6 May.

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