National

Yamaguchi-gumi henchmen make Kobe kids an offer they can’t refuse: Halloween candy

Staff Report

The Yamaguchi-gumi underworld group distributed candy and other snacks to children as Halloween gifts near its headquarters in Nada Ward, Kobe, according to the Kobe Shimbun.

The regional newspaper quoted investigative sources as saying that members of the nation’s biggest crime syndicate handed out bags containing an assortment of sweets and snacks to children at a neighborhood shrine for about an hour starting at 5 p.m. Monday.

Some yakuza were seen telling children to go pick up the bags at the shrine, the paper reported.

The Yamaguchi-gumi has a tradition of distributing such bags every Halloween season but suspended it last year amid internal strife that had led to it splitting into two groups last August.

At last year’s Halloween, a message was hung in front of the group’s headquarters that read: “We cancel this year’s (gift-giving) due to circumstances. We will be back next year for sure, so please look forward to it.”

Investigative sources have told the newspaper that the return of the yearly tradition might be a sign that the gang, which has recently faced calls for disbandment from neighboring citizens, is trying to appease them.

Organized crime groups in Japan, despite their violent nature, are known for occasional displays of goodwill. They are often active in relief activities when major disasters strike, as seen in the wake of the massive earthquake that hit Kobe and other cities in the Kansai region in 1995.