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Yakuza - Modern Samurai?
The yakuza, one of Japan’s largest organized crime groups, consider themselves modern samurai:
"Present-day yakuza view themselves as modern samurai and maintain exotic rituals, including extensive tattooing that often covers their bodies from necks to ankles, and clipped fingers that have been self-amputated with a short sword in a ritual – yubizume – that serves as a sign of contrition for mistakes." (Abadinsky, 2003, p. 207)
The yakuza are not modern samurai. The yakuza do not value education, they pursue illegal activities, and they flamboyantly spend lots of money. Samurai live by a code that includes valuing education, knowing the difference between right and wrong, and being frugal with money.
The yakuza do not value education and they “are typically lower-working-class high school dropouts, with one or two parents of Korean or Chinese extraction – marginalized persons with a history of juvenile delinquency” (Abadinsky, 2003, p. 207). Samurai value education and understand its importance:
"If you have no education, there is no way for you to understand the reasons of things past or present. Then no matter how smart or cunning you may be, in actual practice dealing with events you will run into many obstacles." (Cleary, 1999, p. 95)
The yakuza’s lack of importance placed on education is the reason they have to resort to illegal activities for their livelihood.
The yakuza clearly do not understand the difference between right and wrong. This is evident in their illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, sex slavery trade, and extortion (Abadinsky, 2003). Samurai pride themselves on honorable and just behavior. According to the Code of the Samurai:
"The complete moron who cannot distinguish good and bad or right and wrong is not even worth talking about. Once you have determined something to be wrong and bad, to avoid demands and justice and do what is wrong is not the attitude of a knight. That is the epitome of the immaturity of modern times." (Cleary, 1999, p. 18)
Samurai do what is right, whereas the yakuza choose to do what is wrong and illegal.
The yakuza profit from their illegal activities and flamboyantly spend these profits by buying unnecessary American Cadillacs and expensive European luxury cars (Abadinksy, 2003). Samurai practice frugality. The Code of the Samurai states as a Samurai you should “live within your means, taking care to avoid useless expenses, even minor ones, spending money only on imperative necessities. This is the way of frugality” (Cleary, 1999, p. 40). The yakuza clearly do not live within their means. Their extravagant spending forces them into illegal activities to support their existence.
The yakuza are not modern samurai. Other than being based in Japan, they have little in common with samurai. The yakuza are money hungry, uneducated, wrong doers that merely try to justify their illegal behavior by calling themselves samurai. Their claim as modern samurai simply reinforces their lack of education.
Abadinsky, H. (2003). Organized crime (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth Learning.
Cleary, T. (1999). Code of the samurai – a modern translation of the bushido shoshinshu of taira shigesuke. Boston, MA: Tuttle Publishing.