The Yakuza is a collective term for Japanese organized crime syndicates, similar to the Mafia in Italy or other organized crime groups around the world.
Yakuza groups are involved in a wide range of illegal activities, including drug trafficking, illegal gambling, loan sharking, extortion, human trafficking, and various white-collar crimes. They are also known to have legitimate business interests, which they use to launder money and maintain influence in society.
At its peak in the 1960s, the yakuza had more than 180,000 members. Of late, stricter laws such as those forbidding yakuza members from opening bank accounts, obtaining a credit card, taking out insurance policies or even signing a contract for a mobile phone have made a life of crime increasingly unappealing. There are thought to be about 25,000 active yakuza members in Japan today.