At least 110 government and public corporation offices paid extortion money to mobsters over the past year, caving in to demands to buy merchandise, subscribe to publications, make donations or pay hush money, the National Police Agency said Thursday.
The agency said the figure came from a nationwide survey in June of local and regional offices of government ministries, Japan Highway Public Corp., Japan Post and other public corporations.
Officials from 1,030 government offices responded that their office had been targets of coercive demands, 772 of them in the past year. Questionnaires were sent to 4,179 central government and public corporation offices and 3,658 of them responded.
The agency released the data ahead of a government meeting later this month in which the top NPA official in charge of underworld violence intends to remind state ministries and agencies to cut ties with gangsters.
“The situation cannot be ignored,” an NPA official said in releasing the results of the survey. “This problem needs to be addressed by the government as a whole.”
The NPA finds it particularly embarrassing that state officials would cave in to mobsters when police tell companies to cut ties with corporate racketeers.
Mobsters show up at government and public corporation offices and demand that officials purchase merchandise, subscribe to materials published by underworld groups, donate “sponsorship money” and pay hush money.
The most common form of extortion, the NPA said, was the sale of merchandise, which accounted for 30 percent of the demands made in the past year.
Some of the government offices that gave in to such extortion in the past year said they found it hard to refuse as they have been doing it for years. Others said they were inexperienced in handling coercive demands or that they gave in because the amount of money involved was small.
Other reasons cited included “getting rid of trouble,” “feeling intimidated” and “fearing that the trouble might become exacerbated” if the demands are ignored.
In a survey conducted in January, the NPA found 30.5 percent of offices of local governments have also experienced coercive demands from gangsters.
Most mobsters used abusive language, and some vandalized government property or threatened violence, the NPA said when it released a previous study March 27.