Headline, September17, 2013


 WORLD OF : THE ! YAKUZA !!! '''

Late 90s.
Blood was all over the goddamn place. Rivers of Burgundy flowed slowly across the surface of the low teak table. Blood seeped into the tatami-matted floor; it had splattered like buckshot fire across the exquisite rice-paper doors. What a damn drag  -blood on the lapels of his new Armani blazer, even on his socks. What a mess. What a goddamn show.

That was Friday night, now it's Monday morning and the theatrics of 48 hours ago rerun on Yasuo Lizuka's mind like a bad movie. He loathes all the melodrama and non-moneymaking bullshit that goes down in the traditional Yakuza values of loyalty and sacrifice, but not if they're exploited of self-aggrandisement. And in Lizuka's opinion, Tanaka, the 41-year old Yakuza soldier who severed part of his ring finger as an act of atonement for short-changing the organisation after a small scam, is a low-class bum. Shit, Lizuka recalls, Tanak's pinky was already missing as the result of another screw-up two years ago.

It's a new week. The Tokyo sky is the color of concrete. There's no break in the greyness which, looking from Lizuka's  living room window, seems to cover the entire 830 square miles, 23 wards and over twelve million residents of Tokyo. 
During the working day, central Tokyo's population will swell to over seven times its night-time number. That's a lot of people, a lot of goddamn opportunity. Lizuka likes to think about huge numbers, about the opportunity to make money   -that's why he joined Yakuza   - not for B-movie dramatics.

It's 8.30 am. Wearing a black silk suit and a black tie, Lizuka stands in front of his luxury apartment building in Tokyo's pricey Nishi Azabu district. His face is ruddy, his jaw strong, and his thin lips clenched around a Marlboro Light. Lizuka takes a drag then runs his manicured fingers through his black punched-permed hair. A shiny white Nissan President  -a Jaguar like domestic model pulls into the parking lot and stops beside Lizuka. Toyama, Lizuka's driver and bodyguard gets out of the car, slams the door and then bows deeply.

Lizuka is a 46-year-old boss in the 4,500 + strong Kowa-Kai Yakuza organisation, one of the nine major groups that control Tokyo racketeering. His rank is analogous to a department head in a corporation. There are about 400 men under Izuka's direct command. At the relatively advanced age of 30, he was recruited into the Kowa-Kai after making a name as a no-nonsense tour manager in the Yakuza dominated Japanese music industry. The Kowa-Kai wanted him for his brains and not brawn, but Lizuka can wield a sword or a pistol with the best of them.

The man's obvious thoughtfulness coexists alongside a capacity for what he describes as  ''unspeakable''  violence. In his early twenties, Lizuka once settled a  ''childhood score'' by viciously slashing his old rival with the Yakuza weapon of choice, a long Samurai sword. The act of vengeance earned Lizuka nineteen months in jail and his brother 80 stitches when the childhood enemy eventually decided to take his revenge.

''When I was young I just loved to fight,'' he says, ''I was uncontrollable.'' And now, despite his matured, executive disposition, Lizuka  -with his wiry hair, heavy Rolex watch and gaudy gold ring   -obviously loves the Yakuza tough-guy mystique. ''Now, I'd rather make a shrewd business investment than bust a nose,'' he smiles. ''I can always get other guys to bust noses while I am reading the Nikkei Index.''

Besides the stock quotes in the morning paper there's a wire-service story casually announcing that the Kobe-based Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan's largest underworld syndicate, ''has added 4000 members to its roster since the end of last year''. The story goes on to explain that  ''the 40,000 Man Yamaguchi-gumi is gradually absorbing members from other groups as it solidifies its dominance of the underworld. The National Police Agency is on the alert for a possible advance by the mob into Tokyo.'' Lizuka shrugs and folds the newspaper   -these rumours have been around for years.

''The difference between them   -the straight corporate businesses  -and Yakuza are subtle,'' Lizuka muses. ''Everywhere they are, we are; they're diversified and so are we. 
Let's just say that in their world one plus one always equals two. For a Yakuza, one plus one can equal four or even five''.

Lizuka is laughing as a call comes through on his wafer-thin cell phone. The calls will come steadily as various sub-bosses roll out of their futons, check in with Lizuka, their ayabun    -literally ''father''., but in Yakuza slang  ''boss''.

At the moment, Lizuka is being driven to the funeral of Kowa-kai hanger-on named Cato who had been chronically obese and had died at the age of 51. ''When he was alive Cato was worth nothing,''   Lizuka smiles as the car glides towards the 333-metre Tokyo Tower, an orangey Eiffel rip-off, ''but dead,  the pig is worth his weight in Gold.''

The death of any man in or in the periphery of Yakuza is an opportunity for easy money. Yakuza etiquette ensures that the funeral is well-attended by ''mourners''  bearing beautifully ornamented envelopes stuffed with Yen 10,000 bills (£43) . Lizuka's job is to accept the bills on behalf of the widow, then split the proceeds with her. 

This remarkable Post continues. So don't miss the next one as we cover Yakuza's  '' ! Big Bosses ! ''

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of Mongolia. See ya all on the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless : '' !! Meeeeeowwww !! ''

Good Night & God Bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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