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Gang boss, others face arrest for 'protection money' racket in Tokyo's Akasaka district

In the bustling Akasaka entertainment district of Tokyo's Minato Ward pictured here on Nov. 13, 2017, the illegal tradition of yakuza members collecting "protection money" from establishments was found to be continuing. (Mainichi)

The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) is set to question 13 people, including the leader of a gang under the Sumiyoshi-kai umbrella, on suspicion of extorting "protection money" from establishments in Tokyo's Akasaka entertainment district. The 13 are set to be arrested once the allegations are confirmed

    The gang boss and other suspects are believed to have run a protection racket for years, and the MPD's organized crime unit is set to shed light on the damages.

    According to investigative sources, the gang boss and others are suspected to have extorted protection money from establishments in the Akasaka district of Tokyo's Minato Ward since 2014. Among other establishments in the district, some were forced to pay around 100,000 yen per month.

    The gang boss heads a secondary Sumiyoshi-kai-related organization, and had marked Akasaka's entertainment district as his territory, setting up an office nearby. He is suspected of ordering gang members under his control to collect at least several tens of thousands of yen from each establishment per month. Among those that were targeted with the protection racket were restaurants, massage parlors and those organizing street solicitors.

    In an effort to undermine gangs, the MPD's organized crime unit has been carrying out door-to-door checks of establishments in entertainment districts to eliminate gang involvement. In June of this year, a senior member of a Yamaguchi-gumi-related group and others were arrested on suspicion of running a protection racket in the Ginza entertainment district of Tokyo.

    Fewer yakuza members directly visit establishments to collect protection money in order to avoid being caught by authorities. Instead, they have become slicker in their methods, buying over building owners, who then include protection money in rent prices when they lease space to tenants.

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