“I think times have changed. It’s time to say ‘no’ firmly,” said Hirokazu Sato, a senior official with the Kabuki-za theater development project team in Tokyo’s upmarket Ginza district, which has also taken a no-yakuza stance. “The Kabuki Theater is drawing a lot of attention. It would be a serious problem if we had ties with them [the yakuza]. We have introduced thorough measures not to damage our brand image.”
Toru Hironaka, a lawyer and advisor to an anti-yakuza committee of construction firms, said the push is part of a wider trend.
“Authorities are seriously cracking down on the yakuza,” he said. “Now, companies that have relations with yakuza can neither receive bank loans nor be listed. Social pressure on yakuza has been growing.”
In many ways, the yakuza — who had their heyday in the “bubble era” of the 1980s — are suffering from the same problems as the rest of the country, said Minoru Yokoyama, law professor at Tokyo’s Kokugakuin University.
“Now, young people don’t see the yakuza as so attractive anymore,” Yokoyama said. “The yakuza world is graying. Many low-ranking yakuza members are suffering economically, reflecting the nation’s economy.”