• Jiji

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The total membership of yakuza crime syndicates in Japan decreased for the 15th straight year to hit a record low in 2019, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

The total, including associates, came to 28,200 as of the end of 2019, down 2,300 from a year before.

“The membership is decreasing further as stronger crackdowns aimed at eliminating yakuza groups have made it difficult for them to secure funds,” an agency official said.

The number of regular members fell 1,200 to 14,400, and that of associates was down 1,100 at 13,800.

The total membership is on the steady decline after marking 87,000 in 2004.

Meanwhile, other crime groups, mainly comprising younger members, are increasing. Police are strengthening their crackdowns on such syndicates.

As of the end of 2019, Yamaguchi-gumi, the largest yakuza group, had 8,900 members, followed by Sumiyoshi-kai with 4,500 members and Inagawa-kai with 3,400.

Members of Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, a splinter group established by those who broke away from Yamaguchi-gumi, totaled 3,000.

Ninkyo Yamaguchi-gumi, now called Kizuna-kai, had 610 members. This group was launched by former members of Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi.

Yamaguchi-gumi and Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi were designated as crime syndicates subject to tough restrictions after they caused a series of incidents related to the split. In November last year, a man affiliated with Yamaguchi-gumi shot dead a senior member of Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi with an automatic rifle in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture.

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