JAPAN: Elder Sister

Scar-faced Giichi Matsuda, known to his fellow gangsters as "The Intellectual" because he was a high-school graduate, was fascinated by the newfangled ideas of democracy and progress. Last December, when he became boss of the 2,000 open-air shopkeepers (tekiyas) in the Matsuzakaya street gang, he tried to put the ideas into practice. Last week they proved his downfall.

The Matsuzakaya gang had its roots in the 17th Century, when the samurai, Japan's warrior class, had formed brawling street associations as a relief from unemployment between wars. More recently members had become black market dealers and fences for stolen goods.

No sooner...

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