Yamaguchi-gumi, the largest organised crime syndicate in Japan, is reportedly turning to the Web in order to improve its image and recruit fresh blood.
The Yakuza group's website comes complete with a corporate song, strong anti-drug message, shrine offerings and videos of members assisting with the clean-up after Japan's 2011 tsunami and a past earthquake.
The website's soundtrack is a folk song which extolls the "Ninkyo" spirit -- the strong protecting the weak -- although some would argue that the crime syndicate's past records and reputation suggest otherwise as their mantra.
The AFP report suggests that the Yakuza is looking to turn around its image and improve membership rates, which have fallen to an all-time low, and going digital will help spread the word.
Journalist and expert on the Japanese group Jake Adelstein said that the website was created in order for the Yakuza to "prove its humanitarian credentials," but self-interest still abounds. By posting images of members helping with the tsunami clean up, Adelstein suggests it will be "easier for them to get a share of the reconstruction money," as well as portray the group as a neighborly, protective force.
Yakuza membership fell to an all-time low last year, slipping below 60,000 for the first time. The AFP says that waning police tolerance, a poor public image and weak economy have made both business and recruitment difficult, and so a PR campaign like the website is turned towards boosting these areas.
The Yakuza are not technically illegal as a group, although are involved in unsavory activities. Perhaps some of their profit should be used to hire a website designer.
Read on: AFP
Image: Screenshot Charlie Osborne | SmartPlanet