Japan’s notorious yakuza gang, whose members are missing pinky fingers, is slowly disappearing. The number of remaining members has declined for the 12th year in a row, with fewer than 40,000 members in 2016.
As reported by Newsweek online, the gang was once composed of 21 groups including the infamous Yamaguchi-gumi mafia. Japan’s National Police Agency (JNPA) said in a 2016 report that crime organisations have finally fallen to about 39,100 remaining yakuza members, according to March 17 reports. Yamahuchi-gumi’s figures also dropped to just 11,800 remaining underworld members.
According to Japanese authorities, 20,050 gang members were arrested in 2016, 1,593 people fewer than the previous year. The agency said the falling number of remaining members and arrests could be due to laws Japan adopted in 2011 that made it illegal for business owners to give money to gang members in exchange for protection, as well as changes authorising law enforcement to prosecute mob bosses for crimes committed by their workers.
While authorities began keeping record of remaining group members back in 1958, they have only now noticed the most significant and consistent decline over the past 12 years.
According to The Guardian, figures reached an all-time low in 2013, when the agency reported only 58,600 remaining yakuza members compared to 2012’s 63,000 members.
Wars among groups could also be a factor in the dwindling gang population. In August 2015, the Yamaguchi-gumi split into two separate groups and conflicts between members led to the death of Yamaguchi-gumi boss Tatsuyuki Hishida in November of that year, CNN reported.
Members of the gang who have been arrested over the years have been charged with extortion, blackmail, fraud and murder.