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Japanese festival bans coats with gang names

Publication Date : 18-05-2012

 

The organiser of the Sanja Matsuri festival in Tokyo's Asakusa district has decided to ban members of organised crime groups from wearing hanten coats bearing their groups' names at the event, it has been learned. Following the enforcement last year of a Tokyo metropolitan government ordinance aimed at the ultimate elimination of crime syndicates, festival organiser Asakusa Jinja Hosan-kai hopes to improve the atmosphere of the annual event starting Friday. During the 10 years through 2007, 33 members of organised crime groups were arrested on suspicion of violating various regulations during the festival, including the metropolitan government ordinance on the prevention of public and private nuisances. For example, gangsters often clambered onto mikoshi portable shrines being carried during the festival. Due to such incidents, the carrying of the three Honsha Mikoshi portable shrines, the main event of the festival, was cancelled in 2008. In the past few years, no major trouble has been reported. However, some gang members wearing hanten coats bearing their groups' names carried portable shrines, while other members showed off tattoos on their upper body. This resulted in numerous complaints from spectators to Asakusa Jinja Hosan-kai. The ordinance put into force last year includes a provision on festivals that says, "Organisers shall endeavour not to have members of organised crime groups involved in the operation of events." Asakusa Jinja Hosan-kai has been working with Asakusa Police Station since the year-end to make the festival a wholesome one.

 

The organiser of the Sanja Matsuri festival in Tokyo's Asakusa district has decided to ban members of organised crime groups from wearing hanten coats bearing their groups' names at the event, it has been learned.

Following the enforcement last year of a Tokyo metropolitan government ordinance aimed at the ultimate elimination of crime syndicates, festival organiser Asakusa Jinja Hosan-kai hopes to improve the atmosphere of the annual event starting Friday.

During the 10 years through 2007, 33 members of organised crime groups were arrested on suspicion of violating various regulations during the festival, including the metropolitan government ordinance on the prevention of public and private nuisances.

For example, gangsters often clambered onto mikoshi portable shrines being carried during the festival. Due to such incidents, the carrying of the three Honsha Mikoshi portable shrines, the main event of the festival, was cancelled in 2008.

In the past few years, no major trouble has been reported. However, some gang members wearing hanten coats bearing their groups' names carried portable shrines, while other members showed off tattoos on their upper body. This resulted in numerous complaints from spectators to Asakusa Jinja Hosan-kai.

The ordinance put into force last year includes a provision on festivals that says, "Organisers shall endeavour not to have members of organised crime groups involved in the operation of events."

Asakusa Jinja Hosan-kai has been working with Asakusa Police Station since the year-end to make the festival a wholesome one.

Having decided to ban participants from wearing hanten coats bearing gang names, the organiser asked district resident associations to notify gangsters planning to take part in the festival of the change.

Asakusa Jinja Hosan-kai also was considering eliminating food and other stalls at the festival venue because some sellers' proceeds have ended up in the hands of crime syndicates.

However, it is difficult to tell which stalls are linked with such groups, so the organiser decided to reduce the stall area on the shrine's grounds to two-thirds of what was usually allocated.

Although the effects of the measures are still unknown, a senior officer at the police station said: "It's important to organise the festival under the direction of local people. We'll deal with any trouble as soon as it takes place."

 

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