Legislation passed the Lower House on July 26 to put more muscle in the anti-organized crime law and allow police to collar yakuza gangs that attack their foes.
The revised law will go into effect from this autumn and will allow police to immediately arrest members of gangs that have been designated by prefectural public safety commissions as being especially dangerous or as being involved in a turf war with rival gangs.
Until now, police had to first issue orders to stop the collection of protection money or other illegal acts or issue orders to prevent a recurrence of such acts before any arrests could be made of offending gang members.
Under the revised law, gangs that are involved in attacks on companies or citizens who have tried to rid communities of the gangs or are feared capable of committing more crimes can be designated as subject to immediate arrest of members who seek protection money in designated areas.
Gangs that are designated as being involved in gang warfare will be banned from allowing members to approach locations related to the rival gang.
The revised law will also allow prefectural centers designed to drive out organized crime groups to file lawsuits seeking injunctions on the use of offices by gangs. That change is in response to concerns that individuals would be less likely to file such lawsuits out of fear of retaliation.
While the revision is designed to help police weaken organized crime groups, police will first have to ensure that officers do not fall prey to gang demands for inside information.
On July 25, an officer with the Fukuoka prefectural police was arrested on suspicion of accepting bribes from a man with close ties to an organized crime group in exchange for providing information about an investigation.
Nagano prefectural police officers were also arrested for providing information on car ownership to a private investigator.
In both cases, gangs are believed to be involved.
Those cases and others in the past reveal that police departments are unaware of the underhanded methods used by gangs to coerce cooperation from police officers.
One source with ties to organized crime, who has been leaked criminal records and investigative information from police officers, said, "Cooperating with criminal investigations serves as a catalyst. In return, I ask that they leak information, and I record the telephone calls in which they agree to this. Once that is done, they can no longer refuse if I say later, 'I have a recording.' "
Organized crime groups are constantly on the lookout for police officers they can bribe to obtain investigative information that helps them avoid arrest.
One source said, "Through various means, we learn about loan amounts and their repayment situation. Once we find a target who has money problems, we contact them after finding out their address and gain their cooperation by giving them spending money."
At the same time, if police officers cut off all contact with gang members, they would be unable to conduct investigations without inside sources of information. One reason many incidents in Kyushu involving attacks on companies and gang warfare are still unsolved is because of insufficient investigations.
That means police have to find the best means of preventing officers from accepting bribes while also allowing them to maintain enough contact and familiarity with gang members to gather information.
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