Nissan Seminar: Criminal Crossroads: Underworld Dynamics in Contemporary Japan

Convener(s): Dr Juliana Buriticá Alzate, Dr Chinami Oka, Dr Alice Baldock, and Dr Olga Khomenko

Speaker(s): Dr Martina Baradel 


Japan's notorious crime syndicates, the yakuza, have been historically entrenched as extra-legal governors with significant control over areas and markets, but now confront a challenging era. Stringent anti-yakuza regulations, evolving market landscapes, and changing public attitudes have collectively precipitated a decline in their membership base and influence. Amidst these shifts, emergent actors like the 'hangure' and new practices such as 'yamibaito' are allegedly gaining prominence, as highlighted by media and law enforcement narratives. This talk critically examines whether the yakuza retains their governance over Japan's underworld and criminal markets, and evaluates the real threat posed by emerging groups.


Martina Baradel is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the Department of Sociology, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on the yakuza, Japanese organised crime, and emerging forms of crime in Japan. She has published articles in Trends in Organized Crime, Global Crime, The Journal of Japanese Law, and her monograph on the yakuza, to be published by Oxford University Press, is forthcoming.