In recent years, Nepalese delinquent groups have become known in Japan due to a series of incidents.
Although they are criminal groups, some people may remember them because of their names, such as “Tokyo Brothers” and “Royal Kamata Boys,” which seem funny to Japanese sensibilities.
In Japan, there are several gang groups composed of foreigners living in Japan. There is a Chinese group, a Japanese-Brazilian group, and a Vietnamese and other Southeast Asian groups. According to a Nepalese gang member, the background of the creation of foreign gangs differs from country to country. And the Nepalese gangs are similar to the Japanese-Brazilian groups.
How do foreign gangs emerge? I would like to shed some light on the Nepalese gangs.
The reason for the massive influx of Nepalese into Japan
Nepal is a small country in the Himalayas sandwiched between India and China. It was not until the 1980s that the number of Nepalese in Japan began to increase.
At that time, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Iranians, and other foreigners from Asia were coming to Japan. They came to Japan mainly on tourist visas, stayed illegally, and worked in the construction industry.
Nepalese, on the other hand, came to Japan in a different way. At that time, there was a rapid increase in the number of Indian restaurants in Japan. The owners of the restaurants were rich Indians, but they often brought in Nepalis as their employees because of their low labor costs. For Indians, Nepalis, who are also Hindu and can easily understand the language, were probably easy to deal with.
For this reason, unlike the Pakistanis mentioned above, the Nepalese obtained the necessary visas for work and settled down legally in Japan to work. While Pakistanis were expected to work for a few years and then return home, Nepalese came to Japan on the premise of settling down.
When the bubble economy burst and Japan entered a period of recession known as the “lost 20 years,” Pakistanis and other illegal aliens quickly ran out of jobs and either returned home or were arrested and deported.
Nepalis, on the other hand, continued to work in Japan because they had work visas, and once they had accumulated a certain amount of money, they brought their wives and children back from their home countries. Foreigners with proper status of residence can bring their spouses and children with them on a family stay visa.
However, it was not without its problems. Nepalese children who came to Japan in this way were sometimes ostracized by Japanese society.
As an example, I would like to introduce the life of a Nepalese gang member. As he is currently under provisional release from the Immigration Bureau, I would like to refer to him as “Dai” (indicating senior or elder) in this article.
Dai tells the story of how he came to Japan as follows.
“When I was 11 years old, my father worked at a restaurant in Ibaraki for about five years. When I was 11 years old, my father invited me to come to Japan with my mother and sister. But Japanese schools were no good. I couldn’t understand Japanese, and my friends bullied me every day, saying that my face was black and that I smelled like curry. So I got into a fight, and the teacher called me out and I had to quit school.
When Nepalis come to Japan at the age of 11, it is not easy for them to integrate into the school in terms of language and learning. In regional cities, different skin color or wearing ethnic dress may become an excuse for bullying.
For the first three months after moving to a new school, Dai had to endure bullying at school. After three months at the new school, Dai endured the bullying, but when he couldn’t take the repeated and insidious violence, he beat his classmate with a chair and injured him.
The teacher called Dai and his parents and angrily told them, “If you don’t study and just beat up your classmates, don’t come to school. Since the family was not good at Japanese, they could not defend themselves or say anything back, so they went home in tears.
Dai stopped going to school and was not enrolled (foreigners can quit school as it is not compulsory). After being a recluse at home for about two years, Dai started working as a live-in employee at an Indian restaurant in Tokyo. He was not good at Japanese and had not even finished elementary school, so it was impossible for him to work in a Japanese company.
Dai says, “The restaurant is owned by an Indian.
“The restaurant was owned by an Indian, and there were three of them in Tokyo. There were three shops in Tokyo owned by Indians, and about seven of us lived in an apartment dormitory. We worked from day to night, and came home after midnight to sleep. The only holiday was New Year’s Day. The salary was 60,000 yen (including dormitory and food expenses).
Fierce protests over the smell of curry
In both the store and the dormitory, the Indian employees had a big face, and the Nepalese employees were in a weak position. There were times when the Indian employees were violent.
Because the store was located in an entertainment district, there were many customers who were gangsters or “half-grays”, and they often made accusations such as “the store’s neon lights and national flag are in the way” and demanded money.
One day, the manager of the cabaret club two doors down came to the store. He demanded 50,000 yen per month on the grounds that the smell of curry was interfering with the cabaret club’s business. When the Indian owner refused, the next day all the windows of the store were broken.
The owner turned to a group of Nepalese delinquents. The owner turned to a group of Nepalese delinquents who were having trouble integrating into Japanese society and had formed a clique. When they received the request, they retaliated by ambushing the manager of the cabaret club and attacking him. After that, the manager stopped making accusations against them.
Seeing this, Dai developed an admiration for the delinquent group. They must have seemed like the allies of justice to him, as he was dissatisfied with Japanese society. Later, Dai contacted the group and became a member.
The group’s activities were as follows
1. Resale of stolen goods
2. Marijuana trafficking
Let’s start with the first. The members of the group have formed a wide community of Nepalese living in Japan through social networking sites. They steal goods from stores and resell them via SNS to make money.
The main items they sell on SNS are computers, food, and clothes, but surprisingly, medical supplies are selling well. Foreigners tend not to go to hospitals or feel that medicines are too expensive, so they tend to try to buy them at a lower price from their countrymen through SNS.
As for point 2, there is a difference in perception between Nepalese and Japanese. In Nepal, marijuana is used by monks during festivals and grows wild in the mountains, making it more familiar than in Japan. Therefore, marijuana is very popular among Nepalese people, and sellers like Dai seem to be aware that it is much better than methamphetamine.
3 is to get paid for bouncers by solving problems that occur in Nepalese and Indian restaurants and grocery stores. As I mentioned earlier in the example of Dai’s store, the people who make accusations are not necessarily anti-social organizations, and they are often harassed as haters by racist Japanese in the shopping area. The gangs receive rewards for helping to solve the problems, he said.
In Dai’s words.
“There are so many Nepalese in Japan now. In Shinjuku, Kamata and Ikebukuro, there are (gang) groups. The groups are protecting the Nepalese in the towns.
Nepalese are the fifth largest group of foreign workers in Japan, after Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipinos, and Brazilians. Many of them work in restaurants rather than in Japanese companies, and they are in a position to protect themselves.
For such Nepalis, the Japanese police is not something they can rely on. Even if they get into trouble and report it to the police, it is not uncommon for the police to work against them. That is why they rely on Nepalese gang groups.
In Japan at any cost: ……
In this way, it can be said that the Nepalese gangs are surviving by taking advantage of the demands of the Nepalese people living in Japan.
So, why are the Nepalese gangs similar to the Japanese-Brazilian gangs, as I mentioned earlier?
According to Dai, both Nepalese and Japanese-Brazilians have one thing in common: they come to Japan as a family unit.
Filipinos and Indonesians, as represented by technical interns, mostly come to Japan alone. They have a fixed number of years to stay in Japan, during which they earn money and return to their home countries.
However, Japanese-Brazilians come to Japan as a family unit, since the entire family can obtain a visa. The parents can work in companies where many foreigners work, but the children have to make it in Japanese schools on their own.
Some children learn Japanese quickly and blend in, while others do not do well due to personality or ability issues. Japanese language barriers, culture clashes, discrimination, and bullying. These children, like Dai, fall out of the Japanese education system and become entangled in poverty, child labor, and other forms of delinquency and crime.
Some Japanese may say, “If you are going to commit a crime in Japan, go back to your country. However, since they came to Japan as a family unit at an early age, they have lost their connection to their home country. They have no family, no friends. They may even have forgotten their native language.
Therefore, they try to survive in Japan at any cost. Some of them form gangs and form gangs.
“If the gaijin gangs were arrested, they would actually lose their visas. But it’s not a problem. If you came to Japan as a child, you can get a provisional release even if you lose your visa. So I don’t have to go back to my country. I can stay in Japan.
When a person is released from prison, they are usually taken directly to the Immigration Bureau and their visa is revoked. However, as we have already seen, foreigners who came to Japan as children not only have no connections in their home countries, but also have wives and children in Japan, so they cannot be deported. Therefore, they are allowed to stay in Japan on a provisional release.
The reality is that the Immigration Bureau, where they are held after they get out of prison, has become a breeding ground for foreign gangs. It is not uncommon for foreign gangsters from various countries to meet and make friends at the immigration office, and then join forces after they are released. This leads to further crime.
“There are members who have been deported back to their home countries. But because they have lived in Japan, they do business with Japanese people even after they return to their home countries. They can speak Japanese, so they do scams for Japanese people in their countries, or send drugs to Japan.
So, deportation is not necessarily a solution to the problem.
In this way, we can understand the importance of properly accepting foreigners who came to Japan at an early age in our society.
Children who have just arrived in Japan, including Dai, are trying their best to live in Japan despite their handicaps. They desperately want to integrate into Japanese society.
How should we receive such pure feelings?
Should we create a way for them to live together by supporting them? Should we support them and create a way for them to live together, or should we discriminate and bully them and let them live a life like Dai? More than ever, it is necessary for society to come together and think about the future of foreign children.
Reporting and writing： Kota Ishii
Born in Tokyo in 1977. Nonfiction writer. Graduated from Nihon University College of Art. He is active in reporting and writing about culture, history, and medicine in Japan and abroad. His books include "The House of the 'Demons': Parents Who Kill Their Own Children," "Forty-three Killing Intentions: The Depths of the Kawasaki Jr. 1 Boys' Murder Case," "Absolute Poverty," "Rental Child," and "Vagabond Child 1945-.