In Japanese society, where conformity is valued, there is only one group that refuses to go along with the rules. This is the proud group of yakuza, who unlike organized crime groups in other countries, don’t like keeping a low profile. In Japan there are 110,000 active members divided into 2,500 families. By contrast, the United States has more than double the population of Japan but only 20,000 organized crime members total, and that number includes all criminal organizations, not just the Italian-American Mafia.
The yakuza are quite powerful in Japan and have many political alliances, especially with right-wing groups. They also operate in the corporate world in Japan. It is well known that weddings and funerals of yakuza members are attended by politicians of high ranking and corporate bosses. The yakuza however, do not only operate in Japan. They have extended into America as well, in Hawaii of all places.
Lots of people, especially Japanese people, head to Hawaii to relax and forget about the stresses of home. Playing in the surf, laying by the hotel pool, or enjoying a lomi-lomi massage, they have no idea that the other Japanese “tourist” sitting across from them at the bar just might be their local yakuza member. Although most of us see Hawaii as a vacation destination known for its lush flora and fauna, beautiful beaches, and the home of surfing, the yakuza see Hawaii not as a vacation destination, but as a perfect place to smuggle goods to and from Japan and America.
Hawaii, as a midway point between Japan and America, is a perfect place for the yakuza to hide out, blend in easily with the other Asian tourists or residents. Its location also makes it the perfect place to smuggle guns from America to Japan and crystal methamphetamine from Japan to America. According to a publicized report of the National Police Agency of Japan, the yakuza, in 1988, grossed almost 10 billion U.S. dollars in revenue, one-third from crystal methamphetamine, known on the street as ‘ice.’ In fact, the yakuza control an estimated 90 percent of the 'ice' flow into Hawaii. They also work with local gangs to direct Asian tourists to gambling parlors and strip clubs and receive a commission for this.
So if you happen to be on the back streets of Honolulu and are asked if you would like to enjoy some fun by a stranger, just say no. Politely.