Thousands of Japanese yakuza mobsters have officially formed a new
group after splitting off from the country’s largest organised crime
syndicate, raising concerns for possible inter-gang conflicts, reports
say.
Leaders of 13 factions kicked out of the Yamaguchi-gumi
syndicate – ’s largest yakuza group which boasts 23,000 members and
associates – held the first formal meeting on Saturday in the western
city of Kobe, local media reported.
The head of the Yamaken-gumi,
one of the expelled factions with about 2000 members, was chosen to
lead the spin-off, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper.
The rival group is expected to have a total membership of about 3000, the Yomiuri said.
Like
the Italian Mafia and Chinese triads, the yakuza engage in everything
from gambling, drugs and prostitution to loan sharking, protection
rackets and white-collar crime.

But unlike their foreign counterparts, they are not illegal and each of the designated groups have their own headquarters.
As
fears rise that the split could lead to a wave of gang violence,
Japanese police last week called for nationwide vigilance, holding an
emergency meeting with special officers from the country’s 47
prefectures.