It is widely known that the Yakuza have a huge influence in Japanese businesses. John Szczepaniak’s book, The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers Volume 2, discusses that very aspect of business in Japan and it gets pretty dark.
Szczepaniak interviewed a series of people under the pseudonym Hideo Nanashi to discuss various topics about the history of Japanese game developers, including one “sibling’s abduction by gangsters at the behest of a leading Japanese game maker.” The name of the company has been redacted for legal reasons.
My younger sister was kidnapped. [REDACTED] hired some gangsters to do it. They did it to make me stop cooperating with Nintendo.
Nanashi went on to explain that in Japan, the arcade industry had links to organized crime like the Yakuza.
In Japan, you have these evil companies that always crop up, and unlike the West, in Japan there’s a perception that “play” is bad, the opposite of hard work. So amusement-oriented industries inevitably become infested with evil companies and ties to the underworld. Take arcades, for example. In legal terms, they’re covered under laws regarding the entertainment and amusement trades. So they’re managed under the same laws that regulate the adult, or “pink”, industry. Because of that, the underworld gets involved. The only companies that have been able to do business while staying clean are probably Nintendo and Namco.
He then proceeded to talk about the kidnapping in more detail, describing one particular incident with an arcade cabinet.
It was one of their game machines. I dropped it in front of their offices, smashed it. And I told them that one of their employees would be next. To show them that I was serious. That way they would feel ashamed of their actions, you know? It was easy for me to get a [REDACTED] arcade cabinet cheaply, so I bought one from a distributor. I thought about robbing a [REDACTED] arcade, too, but that’s much more difficult, and that would make me a criminal. With what I ended up doing, I could have been charged with something like unlawful dumping of garbage, but that’s a minor offence. Whereas if I had robbed a [REDACTED] arcade, I would have been arrested. [REDACTED] was well-versed in using the underworld to get what they want, so if you’re going up against them, you have to be smart. They’re a big company, so if you try to fight them with ordinary methods, they’ll work with the police and get the legal system to come after you. They might even pay off a politician, like a member of the National Diet. Who knows what they’re capable of?
I just smashed it in front of their main office in the middle of the night. It was easy. The [REDACTED] headquarters are in [REDACTED] now, but back then they were near [REDACTED] Airport. Their office building was right in front of a major street, in a commercial district without any residential homes.
…I didn’t dump it myself. I had someone else do it, because I don’t have a driver’s license. I had him just drop the machine and dump it, so I don’t know how damaged it was, but I assume it smashed apart. And then I sent [REDACTED] a letter.
This was not the first time that the company had dabbled in such affairs. Many years ago, the same company used a “quarantine room” where employees would be forced to stay and make them resign.
I don’t know how much you know about [REDACTED], but are you aware of the “quarantine room” [隔離部屋, literal translation: “Isolation room”] problem from around the year 2000? They would put employees alone in a room and give them absolutely nothing to do, in order to make them resign. [REDACTED] did that, and former [REDACTED] employees sued them and won. That’s the kind of thing [REDACTED] did back then. They didn’t just put people behind a partition or something, they sent them away to a completely different floor of the building. [REDACTED] didn’t just lose a lawsuit over this, they completely tarnished their image. Nobody wanted to buy games from a company like that. It became a major social issue. Like this article, about [REDACTED] being sued for the quarantine room and issuing a public apology.
Just like Szczepaniak, we are withholding the names as not to create any legal action. If you do some of your own research and figure it out, it is worth noting that this report should not be reflective of the current state of the company.
If you’re interested in reading more about Japanese development, you can click here and purchase Szczepaniak’s latest book.
Via Nintendo Life