The Yakuza vs the Right-Wing Nationalists

Japanese Nationalistic Hinomaru flag used in wartime is the uyoku symbolIn recent weeks, Stippy has been receiving much attention and many comments and questions based around our Tokyo Yakuza Wars and Prison in Japan articles. One of the questions we received was what is the difference between the Yakuza and the Right-Wing Nationalist groups? Are they different parts of the same organization, or are they in fact completely different?

For the average foreigner living in Japan, both the Yakuza and the Right-Wing Nationalists have very stereotypical images, and are easy to pick out from a crowd. The Yakuza are big, bulldog types with black glasses, often seen waiting quietly outside or by the bosses car, or in groups in the local Almond cafe. The Right-Wing Nationalists on the other hand, usually seem to be skinny undernourished guys, wearing a Long Live the Emperor style head bands, who cant say anything unless its standing on a big black vans through a megaphone so distorted that it is impossible to make out a word they are saying.

Despite the obvious differences, the first reaction is to put them in the same group, and assume that the vans, megaphones, Toyota Century cars, shouting in the streets, rallies on public holidays such as National Foundation Day (建国記念日), etc are all part of the same overall group, out to scare and control the public, and that they are mostly the same people on the same side of society. Uyoku Right Wing Sendensha CarThe mass media in Japan also tends to do so by portraying the Nationalists as “violence gangs” (暴力団). However, after the recent breakout of Yakuza Wars, and the Rise of Ishihara-style Patriotism in Japan, our research has shown that the two groups are surprisingly different, and have a very complex relationship.

Now, there are elements of the two groups which are the same- i.e. members of both groups who “wear both pairs of sandles”. For example, Yakuza’s have been know to form ad hoc Nationalist groups for specific purposes, and some members of the Nationalist group who cant make enough money to live, have joined Yakuza gangs. But in general, they are two completely separate organizations.

The most basic difference is what they are each working to protect. The Yakuza endeavors to protect its turf. This turf is an area within a city, and they compete with similar Japanese Yakuza groups for that turf, such as the Sumiyoshi-kai and Yamaguchi-gumi over Nishi Azabu. On the other hand, the area that the Nationalists attempt to protect is the entire country of Japan. “From the Senkaku Islands in the south (尖閣諸島), to the Hopporyodo Islands (北方領土) in the north”. (Read here for an amazing Government conspiracy about the Happoryodo’s uncovered by Stippy.)

Another related difference is that all Yakuza work completely for the benefit and the honour of a Boss, known as an Oya-bun(親分)、the top of their own Yakuza organization. Each Yakuza group in Japan has its own Oya-bun. No specific knowledge or education is required for this line of work. Hinomaru flags being waived at the EmporerHowever, the Nationalists work with complete and ultimate loyalty to the Emperor of Japan, and act only in the interest of Japan as an independent nation. To do this successfully, the Nationalists need to study history, philosophy and politics to fully understand exactly what they are attempting to protect.

In the post-war decades, the Nationalists had strong and wealthy organizations, but in more recent decades, it is the Yakuza that have tipped the balance due to both higher membership numbers and greater economic wealth. The two tipping-points for the Nationalists were in both 1981 and 1997, with revisions to the Japanese Commercial Code putting a stop to two of the Nationalist’s most profitable activities, Soukai-ya (総会屋), which is where minority Nationalist stock holders arrive at corporation’s AGMs and cause trouble and extort cash, and also kigyo-mawari (企業回り), where Nationalist members would sell the organizations internal magazines and publications to corporations.- large numbers of copies at extremely high prices. This was a large source of income for them which funded their activities, but the new laws diminished their power greatly, and the Yakuza began to take over.

One of the Nationalists main activities, is denouncing in public those who they believe have done wrong by the country, and by the Emperor. This is where they stand in the middle of a public place, on top of a van, and shout denunciations through a megaphone. However, in many situations, those person being denounced will seek refuge with the local Yakuza boss, and the boss will call up the Nationalists, and they hit down and talk it out. Usually they will come to a middle ground of exactly how far the Nationalists are allowed to go in their denouncements. Although these two groups are different, and work for different causes, there is friction between them. But this rarely escalates into violence, which is avoided.

As the original founder of the Chuko-juku Aikoku Renmei Nationalist Group (忠孝塾愛国連盟) famously quipped, in an unfamiliar street, a Yakuza must walk down the footpath with his eyes to the ground, whereas anywhere in Japan, a Nationalist can walk down the middle of the road, with his head held high.

9 thoughts on “The Yakuza vs the Right-Wing Nationalists”

  1. The Mafia is a group an organisation of crime syndicates whereas Ultra nationalism expresses a political stand point . so ,yes they are different.
    for me its where their borders meet that holds interest

    On the political spectrum both Yakuza and the Truck Boys lie in the Right. the term U-Yoku of course translates as Right wing but I prefer to distinguish them under the term Ultra Nationalists.

    my own cement test was to go drinking in a Uyoku bar in Ginza and later the same night wander intoa Yak bar…convincingly different!

    Interesting that the Nationalists are here associated with the Soukaiya who are usually referred to as organised crime members…..

    Suggesting that the Ultra Nationalists are educated in history philosophy and politics is amusing, (I hope that wasnt a stippy writers quote) Im sure they are fed propaganda on political topics but im convinced there is a general lack of deep analysis. My guess is they are forced to memorise their high school history books and listen to Ishihara speeches!
    The leaders and advisers however may be qualified scholars and even professors, but then again Japanese universities aren’t well known for intellectual prowess!

    UltraNationalists are often also called upon to disrupt anti-government protests and rallies , a simple phonecall from the Ministry under protest and Kasumigaseki turns intoa loudspeaker competition!

  2. What do the kanji on the side of that jeep mean? I think it says, “Give us an autonomic constitution” doesn’t it? What sort of constitution are these guys proposing? Have they proposed a draft, maybe, “The Constitution of Japan as written by the guys who drive around in the annoying noisy black trucks”? I am sure that would go down real well with your average law abiding member of the public. Wtf do they think they are anyway? First rule of gaining respect – “be respectable”… idiots.

  3. Suche Kontaktanschrift von “rechtsextremen” Organisationen in Japan. Kann Deusch und Englisch. Leider kein Japanisch.

  4. Although I feel for those extreme nationalists, it’s sad that they’re still so many years in the dark ages. It is sad that Japan loses so many of its ancient traditions, BUT…there is no alternative in an increasingly international 21st-century world. In order to be truly international, countries invariably must give up things-even for highly cohesive Japan. Many Japanese simply cannot fully accept that

  5. nationalists are militray nazis avoid
    mind you japanese need to be more open to chinese, korean issues.
    as well a more knowing about ww2 and taiwan,

  6. Uyoku (right wing) people study Japanese history very well. They study with their biased mind. They believe that they are doing favor to politicians. However, Japanese politicians are not puppets. Uyoku people have been frustrated. They believe that Japan should go back to Meiji-Ishin after small amount of Bou-Chou (yamfuchi-ken) soldiers toppled Tokugawa Shogunate. They don’t realize Choshu winners went modernize Japan, without violence except new government defeated Russia when attacked, etc. Later, WW II time, Uyokus became current uyokus. However, keeping tradition of modernization, Bou-Chou produced powerful politicians who ignored Uyokus. Even yakuzas ignore Uyokus.They are unti-foreign countries. Japanese large corporations ignore them. As you see in USA,they love American workers. For instance, American male employees do not change employers when they have to work with females in same positions. Uyokus interferance in USA 0. Anywaym Uyokus are worst and most disliked organization in Japan.

  7. I am a WHITE American of Eastern European descent. I speak fluent street Japanese and understand their culture. These “uyoku” right-wing banger-types are to be APPLAUDED. They are keeping Japan JAPANESE. Japan is a beautiful nation with beautiful culture and heritage. One of the few modern nations unsullied by the liberal scourge of multiculturalism or political correctness. Anytime I see one of those “uyoku” trucks cruising down the street, I applaud it as it goes by. Now, you might think that I am deluded or ridiculous, however, I have been in street fights with the Yakuza and met a few of the “sergeants.” Believe it or not, once they realize that you SPEAK their language/dialect, UNDERSTAND their culture, and RESPECT their ways…they take you in as one of their own. They are not racist, but nationalist. And I wish this upon my fellow Americans more and MORE AND MORE in these days of unchecked liberalism which is TEARING OUT COUNTRY TO PIECES.

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