Yakuza Demographic Shift – Anti-yakuza laws in Japan resulting in an ageing membership

A police crackdown on organized crime in Japan and the proliferation of new opportunities for young men who want to make their way in the world has tarnished the yakuza’s unique selling proposition. As a result the criminal organization is finding it almost impossible to recruit new members. This has created a sharp demographic shift in yakuza membership.

yakuza demographic shift
Yakuza demographic shift – members of the criminal organization are ageing

“Japan’s ageing population is a factor, of course, but the yakuza scene is no longer an attractive proposition for young men. They have to sacrifice a lot to lead the life of a gangster, but for increasingly diminishing returns.”

Tomohiko Suzuki, an author and expert on the yakuza

The Guardian reports that in 2006 30.6% of gang members were in their 30s. By 2021, however, this age group came to represent only 14% of the total membership of the yakuza. Less than 5% are in their 20s.

According to Japan’s national police agency nowadays 51.2% of regular yakuza members are aged 50 or over, meaning that they no longer have young blood to do the dirty work.

“My generation dreamed about becoming high-ranking gang members who were popular with women, had money and drove fancy cars. But the times have changed. Young people today don’t like the idea of being tied down to a gang.

I have somehow managed to survive until now. But I wouldn’t join a gang if I had my time again. I went to prison three times and now I have no family, no savings and no job.”

Yakuza member in his seventies

Read the full article on https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/05/making-a-slow-getaway-ageing-population-japans-yakuza

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