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The National Police Agency’s 2007 white paper addresses the “fight against gangland activities designed to get funds.” The white paper warns that a continuation of covert activities by gangs to raise money will damage the health of the Japanese economy and dispossess the whole nation of its interests. It is a strong call for all of society, including both the government and private sectors, to close ranks against gangsters.

Last year, some 28,400 gangsters were arrested. Of them, more than 30 percent were involved in stimulant drug sales, extortion, gambling and the selling of unauthorized tickets for municipally operated gambling such as horse races — traditional ways for them to raise money. But the white paper says that many gangsters are also intruding into ordinary business activities. By using their companies as a cover, many gangsters use violence or are engaged in illegal activities to acquire money, including manipulation of stock prices and insider trading in stocks.

These and other economic activities are supporting the nation’s gangsters, whose numbers dropped from a peak of 180,000 in 1963 to about 80,000 today following police crackdowns in the 1990s.

The white paper points to close relations between gangsters and construction companies. The NPA surveyed 3,000 construction companies in February 2007 and 1,820 of them responded. A third of them said gangsters had made unreasonable demands on them in the past year, and a similar number said they had heard of construction companies with ties to gangs.

The white paper also highlights the fact that many gangsters target local governments with unreasonable demands, especially over public works. It says that 34 percent of the nation’s local governments have been on the receiving end of such demands. Some gangsters whose demands are rejected or ignored by local governments become violent, as in the April 17 incident in which a gunman assassinated the Nagasaki mayor.

Cooperation among police, enterprises and communities is essential in the fight against gangs. Tax offices can also play an important role by scrutinizing tax returns for irregularities.

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