Oct. 13 (UPI) — Japanese authorities have arrested members of the notorious Yakuza crime ring, after they were found extorting earnings from workers at the site of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Six Yakuza members were arrested Wednesday for illegally mobilizing homeless people to work on construction, then extorting part of their $90-a-day wages, the Asahi Shimbun reported.
The homeless were recruited from an area near Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station. The Yakuza also earned a commission from connecting construction firms with the illegal labor force, according to the report.
Authorities may be monitoring construction at the Olympic site because of rising concern they will be embarrassed, the South China Morning Post reported.
Kyle Cleveland, an associate professor of sociology at Temple University’s Japan campus in Tokyo, told the Post the Yakuza are a familiar player in construction.
“The Yakuza have been endemic in the construction industry all the way back to the immediate post-war era and I don’t think it is any worse now than it was then,” he said.
“In all those years, big corporations, construction companies and politicians have effectively enabled this to happen and it takes cases like this to reveal the chronic long-term reality of the situation.”
Controversy over hosting the Summer Olympics in 2020 is growing following an announcement last Friday, according to the Asahi.
Japanese auditors found the government spent more than $7 billion in the past five years on preparing for the Olympics, exceeding a national budget of $1.3 billion.
The Yakuza recently was the target of U.S. Treasury sanctions.
Last week the Treasury targeted two front companies of the Yamaguchi-gumi, and placed four senior members of the organization under economic sanctions, Asia Times reported.
There are a total of 21 Japanese crime ring members under U.S. sanctions, according to the report.