I read this book in my eternal search to gain more and more information about the Yakuza. This book was very well written. Mister Seymour was an American journalist who was able to have access to various Yakuza at many different levels in the hierarchy of the clans. His story is fascinating at times harrowing, and funny. The picture he paints of the Yakuza was a complex one, these were real Yakuza, not the stereo type. These were memorable characters, from the The Old Gangster, the Gaijin Yakuza wife turned prostitute, among other ones. The writer was able to gain the trust of various gangsters, who than in turn turned him on to other connections. The picture he paints of the Yakuza and its role in Japanese, further illustrates the bizarre position they play in that society. The Yakuza were largely blamed for the recession that happened in the 90′s in Japan. They had big roles in various businesses which netted them billions. They are involved in business to exploit businesses. Their semi legal status guarantees they will continue to make staggering profits. One point the writer brought up was how the Yakuza clans are made up of smaller gangs who fly under the umbrella of a father organization, which they are than to do the bidding for. Some times the conflict between these gangs may interrupt in gun fights in the halls of buildings they have offices in. I thought that was vivid image.
Seymour describes the roles of members to their Godfathers. The Godfathers serve as mentors and advisers to the leaders of the smaller gangs. The Godfathers are considered to be fathers to the soldiers who are considered to be children. Sometimes when a “child” is productive, they can go on to make their own gang. What is unique about this relationship also is the Godfather will do their own hits. They don’t pass the hit on to all the time.
Another character that the writer introduces the reader to is a White American woman, who is married to a jailed Yakuza. In order to support herself she works as prostitute. This role is not frowned upon in that world, because it’s about the money. They are respected by Yakuza to some degree. These call girls are still subject to extreme violence from the their Yakuza customers.
The last point which I found ironic, was at the period in which the book was written was the late 90′s the government was in the process of “cracking down” on the Yakuza. Now ten plus years later, the Government is “cracking down” on the Yakuza again. I don’t think its going to work…
Great book which proides a gritty real picture of the Yakuza.