Japanese Gangs and Offenders - Yankii, Bosozoku and Sukeban

Do you know Japanese gangs and criminals? There are several types of them that even received names and titles like Yankii, Bosozoku and Sukeban. In this article, we will see everything about Japanese offenders, especially those mentioned.

Some do not belong to gangs and may act differently on the streets or by bullying in schools. It doesn't matter if a Japanese delinquent is a high school bully, gang member and biker. Let's see different types!

They all end up having things in common and are still quite different from Western criminals. Some may not appear to be delinquents or act in this way, so we need to observe and know them.

Anime, dramas and films show a lot the style and look of a standard delinquent and how they usually act. They usually transmit a feeling of anger and cannot control themselves. Some usually dye their hair, make bangs, and wear bleached and unusual blouses.

Japanese offenders - what do they do? How to identify them?

Types of offenders in Japan

Offenders in Japan are often called yankii (ヤンキー), a reference to the word yankee that Americans use to refer to citizens of different ethnicities. The Japanese probably adopted this word because of the peculiar tendencies of the subculture of Japanese offenders.

Yankii it was already used in Japan to refer to the Kansai poor in the 1975 era. Soon the term was also used to refer to the Japanese who imitated Americans, until finally the term focused on the definition of young rebels who do not follow the norms and school standards. The film Kamizake Girls (Shimotsuma Monogatari) portrays the life of the Yankii well.

There are several subcultures, gangs and types of offenders that can be categorized and listed. Below we will briefly share some Japanese terms and what kind of offenders this term refers to.

Japanese gangs and criminals - yankii, bosozoku and sukeban
  • Bosozoku - They are gangs of wild bikers;
  • Bancho - A leader of a group of criminals;
  • Tsubari - Term used for the blue boys of the 1970s;
  • Sukeban - Refers to a group of female offenders or a chief;
  • Yakuza - It refers to the Japanese Mafia;
  • Gyaru - A style of fashion and culture that can be kind of aggressive;
  • Hashiriya - It literally means street runner, a movement similar to bosozoku;
  • Ijime - It literally means bullying, something that happens in Japanese schools;
  • Furyo - It also means delinquent or some bad person;
  • Chinpira - Little yakuza apprentice, punk, delinquent girl;

Identifying Japanese offenders

There are so many things to talk about Japanese offenders that I don't even know where I start or the order I write. I'll start by quoting something very interesting that the yankii, criminals or gang subculture do, which is to squat and stay in a position called unko zuwari or yanki zuwari. It looks like a fecal position where the person is with the butt to the floor and with the legs spread showing some kind of attitude. You probably have seen it in some anime.

Japanese offenders - what do they do? How to identify them?

Offenders who follow a culture often wear bandanas, surgical masks, piercings and excess jewelry. In addition, some tuck their pants into their boots or wrap them around the knee. Some even make scars and tattoos to look hardcore. Female offenders usually wear a messy school uniform, scarf, loose socks and a very short or elongated skirt.

The behavior of Japanese criminals is the same as you expect: they like to fight, disturb the peace and do not get along with society. His main interests involve baseball, motorcycles, fighting and martial arts. The person does not necessarily need to have an appearance or style to be a delinquent, you will notice by his attitude. Yakuza do not usually get along with young offenders, they consider themselves to be professionals, while young people just want to play punk.

Japanese offenders - what do they do? How to identify them?

Even cool and fun people can be considered delinquents in Japan. Anyone who doesn’t obey the rules, can’t live with others or looks different is often called a furyou (不良) which can be translated as something not good, bad, inferior and delinquent.

Bosozoku - Young Japanese Rebels

Bosozoku! Have you heard of that term? It would never occur to him that a disciplined country with a strong ancient culture like Japan, would have a subculture of criminals roaming the country, making trouble, disturbing the peace and giving work to the police. This is a stereotyped view of bikers who claim to have a good cause! 

Well, Japan also has its own group of angry young people who go around making fun of it. These are the Bosozoku, a gang of motorcyclists who customize motorcycles, go around committing traffic violations and have a connection with the Yakuza. In this article, we will detail what bosozoku are and their activities:

Bosozoku - young Japanese rebels

Origin and Activities of Bosozoku

The term bosozoku (暴走族) was created in the 70s, and literally means "tribe out of control". They emerged in the 1950s, when Japan was recovering from the war and the auto industry was growing. Low-class youths came together to express dissatisfaction to Japanese society at the time, forming motorcycle gangs for that.

At that time, they were baptized kaminari zoku. The motivation behind it all was basically that typical rebellion against society's norms. However, as the bosozokus are young people under the age of majority (which is 20 years old in Japan), some ignored the struggle for freedom and became bosozoku just to be part of a group.

Bosozoku - young Japanese rebels

Do you know that youthful need to be part of a collective? Yeah. They are just a Clube do Bolinha. However, it was in the 80s and 90s that they gained notoriety by practicing serious acts of vandalism and confronting the police.

Of course, they claim to do all the acts mentioned for a good cause, which seems to be a cool thing, but I personally don't sympathize with people who make a mistake to justify or fight others. Maybe I'm talking a little negative about the bosozokus, but I hope you are not offended by that.

In 1982, there were 42,510 bosozokus and they used to roam the streets in large quantities. Its activities consist of fixing bullshit, making noise with motorcycles, violating traffic laws, taking a crack, among other antics to attract the attention of society.

Bosozoku are a family and have principles like the members of the Yakuza.

How do the Bosozoku dress?

They usually wear a uniform consisting of overalls like those worn by manual workers or a Tokkou-fuku (特攻服), a type of military overcoat issued with slogans written in kanji. They wear baggy pants and a pair of boots to keep up. They decorate their motorbikes to the point that they seem to have left a samba school or Bom Dia & Cia.

Bosozoku - young Japanese rebels

Currently, bosozoku are almost extinct for those who like silence. It all started in 2004, when the Japanese government enforced traffic laws to empower police officers to make arrests. In 1982 there were more than 40,000 bosozoku, while in 2004 the number was less than 10,000.

Government measures have caused the number of motorcycle gangs to drop dramatically. Thanks to this, in 2011, the amount of 9,064 bosozoku was recorded. Currently, bosozoku ride in small groups, and instead of riding motorbikes, they currently ride scooters.

Nowadays, some neighbors are still bothered by the noise of the bosozoku during the night. They are well portrayed in Japanese anime, dramas and films. The daily distractions of the modern world are believed to have contributed to discouraging youth from becoming involved with biker gangs. Most spend money on games and live in their rooms watching anime.

From a dangerous gang, the Bosozoku became a little group of the neighborhood gang, much more friendly, but they are still noisy and still have their goals. Have you met any bosozoku? What is your experience with these wild bikers? We appreciate comments and shares.

Japanese offenders - yankii, bosozoku and sukeban
Sukeban - Girls Gang in Japan

Sukeban - Japanese Girls' gangs

Have you heard of Sukeban [スケバン | 女番], Japanese gangs of delinquent girls? To be more exact this term refers to the leader of that group. These groups were very popular in the past century. Today they are practically extinct.

This term was first used in the late 1960s. Yakuza and in other gangs in Japan, women were barely allowed to participate. This led them to create their own. Currently Sukeban, act more like a stereotype or fashion among young people. But in the past it wasn't just that.

A writer named Jake Adelstein, a crime expert in Japan, comments on the rise of Sukebans. He says that because of the male-dominated culture in Japan, women were trying to find their space. The world spoke of feminism and release, which may have led these women to also feel entitled to rebel like gangs of men. We will learn more about Sukebans in this article.

Sukeban - Japanese Girls' gangs
Different Gangs Unite in Japan

The Sukeban lifestyle

Unlike other gangs (mostly male members) who committed crimes, and fought fights between rival groups, the Sukeban were different. They maintained and followed an organized and strict code of justice. Each group of girls had a hierarchy and their own punitive means. These girls had moral values and held fast to them.

In general, they were indicated for having their hair dyed or some bright and different hairstyle. And most always wore their school uniforms most of the time. Provocative clothes and too much makeup were frowned upon. At first, the gangs started with small groups of girls, entering schools with knives and cigarettes. But, they soon grew in number and in level of crime. Groups range from 50 to 80 girls. However, a group known as Kanto Women's Delinquent Alliance claimed to have about 20,000 members.

The Sukeban phenomenon peaked in the 1970s, along with the emergence of the most fearsome Sukeban. This group called K-Ko the Razor, coming from Saitama, Tokyo. This name refers to the weapon they used, a razor to cut throats. They wrapped her in a cloth and placed her between her breasts. No other group has been more recognized than this. Achieving even the status of urban legend.

Sukeban - Japanese Girls' gangs

Rules, punishments and fame

Among Sukeban groups there were many rules. And, breaking these rules was not good, and could result in ” lynching“. Lynching involved varying degrees of punishment. Starting from a “light” punishment like applying a cigarette to bare skin. Going to apply the lit cigarette in the private parts, considered as "medium" punishment.

The causes for these punishments are numerous and distinct, ranging from gang to gang. These may include showing disrespect to older members. Talking to enemies and getting caught with drugs were also valid for punishment. But the most common cause for lynching was by messing with the opposite sex.

Cheating on a boyfriend would certainly cause lynching. These girls acted and looked older than they really were. Another surprising fact is that they were super conservative when it came to dating, romance and sex. But, as time went by, gangs began to shrink, and participants became more integrated into society.

Even so, since then, the media has taken advantage of this very well. Several films, anime, manga and even games have been created around Sukebans. Even today, traces and influences can be seen in pop culture and in everyday Japanese life.

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