Context: two yakuza men found out that Azami, a man that owed them money, committed suicide. Then, one says to the other:


Does 会社 have a particular meaning here? Or do they simply consider their gang as a company? How could it be translated? Thank you for your help!

  • I am not sure if it has a different meaning in this context but... In Japan, Yakuza groups are registered as official companies. The government knows where they are, who there are and accept their "business" as a normal company... Yes... it is messed up. They only get arrested if they seriously step out of line. Mar 22 '17 at 1:37
  • @stackreader AFAIK yakuza organizations themselves are not official companies of any kind, although they often secretly run some official companies.
    – naruto
    Mar 22 '17 at 2:21
  • 1
    @naruto I see articles like that all the time. economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2015/09/… Mar 22 '17 at 2:34
  • That article is not saying Sumiyoshi-kai and Yamaguchi-gumi themselves are officially registered legal bodies. It's just saying they are "not technically illegal". Technically, they are just private organizations without any state as a legal body, and it's hard to entirely ban people form forming a group (presumably because there's the freedom of association). Of course yakuza is nothing but illegal in the common perception of Japanese people.
    – naruto
    Mar 22 '17 at 2:48

Modern yakuza organizations tend to camouflage themselves using common terms used by normal companies and NPOs. The name of such an organization itself can be camouflage. ~組 is the traditional naming convention which is strongly associated with yakuza (and construction companies), but some use confusing names like ~興業. From Wikipedia:


The heads of yakuza organizations used to be called 頭領 or 親分, but in some organizations it's now 組長, 総長 or even 会長. 会長 (≒"chairman") is the word used by most large Japanese companies including Toyota and Sony. So I won't be surprised if a yakuza member calls his organization 会社, although I don't know how common it is. Anyway, this does not mean he believes his organization is a proper company.

In addition, some (most?) yakuza organizations run real companies to make money, legally or illegally. So he may be referring to such a real company.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.