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Yakuza membership falls to a record low; Japan's police takes credit

Published on Mar 6, 2014 6:59 PM

TOKYO (AFP) - The number of people belonging to Japan's notorious yakuza crime groups fell to an all-time low in 2013, slipping below the 60,000-member mark for the first time on record, police said on Thursday.

The National Police Agency credited its crackdown on the organised crime syndicates for membership falling to 58,600 last year, down from about 63,200 in 2012.

Like the Italian mob or Chinese triads, yakuza syndicates are involved in activities ranging from prostitution and drugs to extortion and white-collar crime.

Tougher policing, an increasingly poor public image and a slowing economy have made the lives of Japan's gangsters difficult, and turned membership less attractive for potential recruits, experts said.

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