JAPAN: Putting the Mafia to Shame

Putting the heat on the sons of samurai bandits

To most Japanese, the yakuza are as instantly recognizable as soldiers in an enemy army. They wear their hair in crew cuts, parade about in flashy double-breasted suits, and affect the swaggering gait and tough-guy scowl of characters out of Guys and Dolls. They are the gangster minority in a society that enjoys the lowest crime rate of any industrialized nation in the world (violent crime actually decreased by one-third in Japan over the past 15 years). But unlike mobsters of the West, Japan's yakuza (good-for-nothings) are part of a chivalric tradition...

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