With the release of Sega's Yakuza 3 going down well with many, let's take a look at the actual Yakuza, Japan's "mafia", and see just how powerful - and accepted - they are in contemporary society.
American author and journalist Jake Adelstein knows more about the Yakuza than most Westerners, having studied them closely for years, written books on the subject, and exposed their operations so extensively that he's received death threats.
Adelstein is now sharing some of this knowledge with culture site Boing-Boing, and if you've played Yakuza 3 (or any of the games in the series, known in Japan as Ryū ga Gotoku), it's great reading.
Did you know, for example, that unlike other crime organisations, the Yakuza is in many ways open and transparent? That their membership details are publicly published, and that you can find family headquarters on Google Maps?
Another fascinating insight that you're probably not aware of is their status as "lawmen", sometimes used to enforce a court ruling by a party involved as a means of securing payment, since Japanese law is so toothless in this regard.
There's plenty more stuff in the actual piece, including one of the Yakuza's more unlikely recruitment avenues, at the link below.
The politics of yakuza (or Q&A with Jake Adelstein pt 2) [Boing Boing]