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The Japanese Mafia

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The Japanese Mafia

Yakuza, Law and the State

Oxford UP,

15 min read
10 take-aways
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What's inside?

Methodical examination of Japan's 'yakuza' (mafia) and recent legal efforts to control it.

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Editorial Rating



  • Innovative


This scholarly work examines the nature of organized crime in great depth and details the evolution of Japan's mafia, called the yakuza, and the challenges confronting it in the 21st century. Although Peter B.E. Hill’s style is rigorously academic, the nature of the material itself is so sensational that the book is at times a thrilling read. It offers a glimpse of the underside of Japanese government and society, and reveals historical facts likely to shock the average non-Japanese reader. getAbstract finds that this book will, of course, interest readers who are professionally concerned with crime, sociology, economics, Japanese studies and the like. However, it may also appeal to fans of true crime stories and hard-boiled fiction – a rare attribute for an academic book.


What Are Mafias?

Organized crime is a term applied to organizations that function somewhat like governments in illegal markets. These organizations, often known as “mafias,” provide a number of services at great profit. One of the most important is protection. Mafias can see that contracts are honored, debts are paid and other obligations enforced, on behalf of people who are unwilling or unable to call on the state for such protection. Criminals are among the most important beneficiaries of this kind of protection. People engaged in illegal activities, such as drug dealing, gambling or prostitution, cannot very well call on the state to enforce their contracts.

However, mafias may also become important to noncriminals in places where the state is unable to provide security. Sicily's organized crime groups arose when Sicilian society was in transition from feudalism to a more modern economy. Many financial deals were under way, but the state had no effectively functioning institutions to enforce legal agreements. At the same time, the population included unemployed demobilized soldiers, ex-convicts and others skilled in violence who could provide protection services...

About the Author

Peter B. E. Hill is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in sociology at the University of Oxford.

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