The Saitama prefectural police has revealed that it searched locations related to a man, who had been arrested last month for organized criminal activity, on 10 September under allegations that he had received protection money from an illegal casino operation in Kawaguchi city, Saitama prefecture.
In June, the alleged illegal casino operation was uncovered and in the subsequent police investigation, a 58-year-old man – who was a member of the organized crime syndicate Sumiyoshikai – was arrested on suspicion of having received hundreds of thousands of yen in protection money from the gambling operation.
The locations searched on 10 September by the Saitama prefectural police were spots related to Sumiyoshikai in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward.
The police are conducting a detailed investigation as to whether the income of the illegal gambling operation was used as a source of funds for the crime syndicate.
Various measures have been taken by local governments nationwide to prevent these protection rackets where money is paid to criminals under the guise of various names. For example, the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly passed a bill in June 2019 to impose penalties if shops pay money to gangsters, which came into effect October 2019.
These penalties are also applied to shops that pay gangsters in special designated enforcement areas. In addition to downtown parts of Tokyo such as Shinjuku’s Kabukicho, Ginza and Roppongi, there are 22 wards and cities included as special enforcement areas such as Hachioji and Machida. Violators can be punished with imprisonment of up to one year or a fine of JPY500,000 (US$4,710).