About 40 percent of the Japanese companies responding to a recent survey admitted to experiencing extortion from racketeers and other mobsters.

The National Police Agency said Thursday that the survey was conducted in January by the National Center for the Elimination of Boryokudan (gangsters), an NPA affiliate.

Of the 1,724 companies that responded, 690 said they had experienced extortion attempts. Of them, 418, or about 60 percent, said demands were made in the past year, despite stiffer penalties against “sokaiya” corporate racketeers.

The government has tightened penalties since a high-profile racketeering case in 1997 involving then Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank.

Replies from the 690 companies indicated the extortionists were people claiming to be activists for descendants of the “burakumin” caste of social outcasts, or they were rightists, racketeers or represent companies linked to gangsters.

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