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Japanese city warns kids not to take part in annual Halloween party thrown by Yakuza gang

A member of the Ninkyo Yamaguchi-gumi was shot dead on a street in the city in September 2017, while another gangster was shot and seriously injured outside the Yamaguchi-gumi headquarters last month. 

Membership of Japan’s yakuza groups has declined in recent years, down to around 30,500 members in 2018 from a peak of 184,000 in the early 1960s. The Yamaguchi-gumi has around 9,500 followers and was founded in Kobe in 1915. 

Police have put pressure on the local board of education, which in previous years has declined to issue a warning against children and parents taking part in the event on the grounds that gangsters’ children might be bullied on the grounds of their fathers’ profession. 

Due to the growing popularity of the event, local police have been more forceful this year and the education authorities have issued a directive through schools in the city warning children not to take part. 

Children in the city of Kobe have been warned not to go to an annual Halloween party that is organised by the Yamaguchi-gumi, the largest and one of the most violent “yakuza” gangs in Japan. 

The gang first held a street party close to its fortified headquarters in the city in 2013, with members of the normally ruthless underworld group dressing up in fancy dress and handing out sweets to local children. Last year, an estimated 1,000 children took home goody bags from the event. 

Local police have expressed their concern to the city’s education authorities that the event is helping to legitimise the Yamaguchi-gumi and might even serve as a recruiting event for teenagers, the Mainichi newspaper reported. 

Another fear is the possibility of violence breaking out during the event. 

A splinter group of the Yamaguchi-gumi was formed in 2015, with another gang subsequently breaking away. All three crime groups are now looking to protect their local business interests - primarily in extortion, protection rackets, underground casinos, drugs and the sex industry - and there have been a number of violent clashes. 

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