Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Japan: report on possible links between the Yakuza crime group and Australia

HAMISH ROBERTSON: Australian police believe that the Yakuza, Japan's version of the Mafia, may be targeting this country as a profitable place to do business. Their suspicions have been aroused by the involvement of the Yakuza in a number of land deals in Queensland. Member of the Yakuza are also known to frequent Australian casinos. In Tokyo, the ABC's Richard McGregor, tracked down one gang member recently to talk to him about his trade.

RICHARD MCGREGOR: One of the good things about organised crime in Japan, as some Japanese will tell you, is that it's mostly out in the open, that way it's controlled and quarantined, everything in its place, so to speak. So if you want to see a member of the Yakuza, you can sometimes go to his gang's office, which in some parts of the country have the group's shingle hanging off the front door, sort of like a tradesman advertising his or her skills.

In our case, we made an appointment with a gang member with interests in resorts and golfcourses, the sorts of businesses the Yakuza are reputed to be getting into in Australia. Our Yakuza looked like a prosperous ex-prize fighter, barrel-chested like a nightclub bouncer made good. Made very good really because he had an office in the Ginza district, home to the world's most expensive real estate. He was charming and disarming and it must be said, probably less than honest about his trade and its international tentacles.

'No', he insisted, 'why would we want to go into business in Australia and America? We can make more money here in Japan. All the hysteria overseas about the Yakuza', he said, 'had been drummed up by the Americans. They used us during the occupation after the war, to get things done and they know how efficient we are. That's why they are worried. Sure, we've killed people', he remarked, 'but they were all communists and enemies of the Japanese State.'

Our Yakuza, like most, was a nationalist. His walls were covered with photos of the imperial family. 'Gangster's problems', he lectured us, 'was the fault of a bad press more than anything else.' But he was keen to show us his other softer side and switched the subject often to the environment. Our Yakuza turned out to be quite a greenie. 'The best thing about Australia', he said, 'was its environment. The Australian and Japanese governments', he pronounced, 'just decided to build the world's first truly clean city.' I was startled - the multi-function polis. I sensed I might finally be on to a story here. 'Were you going to invest in it?' I casually asked, 'no', he replied, 'the Government already has a list of companies for that,' but he would like, he added, to visit Australia, probably to play golf.

This is Richard McGregor in Tokyo, for AM.