The Japan Society

Upcoming Events

The Importance of Being an Anesan: Women in the Yakuza

Monday 19 August 2024 / 6:45pm
The Importance of Being an Anesan: Women in the Yakuza

Date
Monday 19 August 2024

Time
6.45pm

Venue
The Swedenborg Society

20-21 Bloomsbury Way (Hall entrance on Barter St)
London WC1A 2TH
[Map]

Booking Details
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Japan’s notorious crime syndicates, the yakuza, are an all-male society, structured around the fictive familial relationships epitomised by the oyabun-kobun (father-son) hierarchy. Is there space for women in this male-dominated world? What role do they play? Have there ever been female yakuza members? This lecture will explore the often-overlooked contributions of women within the yakuza, from supportive roles played by wives (anesan) and partners to the rare but significant involvement of women in leadership.

Martina Baradel will examine the influential presence of women like Taoka Fumiko, wife of the third-generation Yamaguchi-gumi boss Taoka Kazuo, who was instrumental in the decision-making process regarding her husband’s successor. The lecture will also highlight the extraordinary case of Nishimura Mako, the only woman known to have undergone the sakazuki, the yakuza’s ritual of affiliation, and exploring her unique position in the organisation, her reputation as the “master of finger-cutting,” and her role in her group’s activities.

Nishimura Mako’s life as a yakuza and her current efforts in running a charity to support former yakuza members provide a compelling narrative of resilience and adaptation. Through extensive fieldwork and personal acquaintance with Nishimura, Martina Baradel will shed light on the critical, yet often neglected, role of women in Japanese organised crime. This discussion is increasingly relevant as the yakuza face diminishing power and seek broader support networks.

Martina Baradel is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the Department of Sociology, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on the yakuza, Japanese organised crime, and emerging forms of crime in Japan. She has published articles in Trends in Organized Crime, Global Crime, The Journal of Japanese Law, and her monograph on the yakuza, to be published by Oxford University Press, is forthcoming.

*Image from the film Blind Woman's Curse (1970)

If you have any questions, please call The Japan Society office on 020 3075 1996 or email events@japansociety.org.uk.


Supported by the Toshiba International Foundation (TIFO)

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Event Tags: GenderLecture