The Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest criminal organization, is headquartered near the Kobe Gokoku Shrine.
In October, legislation was implemented that prohibits ordinary citizens from conducting business dealings with crime organizations.
Members of the Yamaguchi-gumi visited the shrine on Nov. 17, but the head priest wasn’t there. They came back the next day and told the head priest, “Since we give you a lot of trouble, we will not visit for the New Year.”
The Hyogo prefectural shrine office in Kobe, a branch of the Association of Shinto Shrines based in Tokyo, sent letters on Nov. 17 to the policy boards of approximately 3,800 shrines, telling them to reject gangsters visiting their shrines for worship.
These letters followed the association’s statement on Nov. 7, which observed that throughout Japan “There is a lot of worry about the fostering of gangster activities.”
Perhaps in response to legal pressures, the Yamaguchi-gumi are desisting from participating in shrine worship for the time being.