Rotten apple patrol

Last month, eight local governments in Fukuoka Prefecture signed an agreement with the two police stations that cover their area to basically ban known members of organized crime organizations from renting public housing units. The agreement went into effect on April 1, and apparently it’s no April Fool’s joke.

According to the agreement, if an applicant for a unit of housing that is provided by either the prefecture or the city/town is suspected of being a member of an organized crime group, the housing authority will contact the police. If the police have proof, or even some reason to believe, that the applicant is a gangster or chinpira or yakuza or whatever you want to call them, then the housing authority can reject the application. What usually invites suspicion, especially with regard to low-income units, is that the applicant is usually asked to submit documentation to show income and in most cases gangsters don’t pay taxes and thus have no documentation.

What’s more, the new agreement makes it easier for the housing authority to evict tenants who are determined to be yakuza. Once the police provide proof that the suspected individual is a member of an organized crime group, the housing authority can file a suit for eviction as long as the police agree to give testimony in court.

It should be noted that the gangsters who live in public housing units are usually pretty low in the hierarchy. But one of the “occupations” of organized crime groups in Japan is welfare scams, so some prey on the system in order to bleed it. Nevertheless, in recent years citizens have been taking matter into their own hands, effectively banning yakuza from public spaces and even removing known gangsters and their families from private apartment buildings. As it happens, Miyazaki Prefecture recently passed a similar law that also went into effect Apr. 1. There seems to be something about Kyushu.

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