Karatsu City in Saga Prefecture has purchased a former Yakuza office at a public auction. The city acquired the property at the request of both prefectural police and the prefectural bar association to prevent it from falling back into criminal hands.
The office in question is located in a residential area close to the city center. It has been used by the criminal group up until late 2012. It was later foreclosed by the Saga Prefecture Credit Guarantee Association. Saga Prefectural Police, the prefectural bar association and the Saga Prefectural Center for Removal of Criminal Organization lobbied the city to take action. On December 5, 2018, the city made the winning bid of 8.3 million Yen (approx. 77,000 USD) for the 1100 sqm lot and building.
Local governments prohibit the sale of real estate that is knowingly to be used by criminal organizations. However, this clause does not apply to foreclosure auctions. In other words, criminal groups can freely bid and acquire real estate that has been put up for public auction. The national government is considering a revision to the Civil Execution Act that would prevent criminal groups from participating in foreclosure auctions. A 2017 investigation by the National Police Agency estimated that as many as 200 of the 1700 Yakuza offices across Japan may have been acquired by the criminal groups through foreclosure auctions.
The Nishi Nippon Shimbun, January 7, 2019.
The Nikkei Shimbun, January 7, 2019.
The Sankei Shimbun, August 31, 2018.