Bosozoku

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The Mainichi reports that “Japan’s biker gangs got both older and smaller in 2008, according to the National Police Agency.

The police agency said that total membership in the country’s biker gangs, or bosozoku, stood at 11,516, an 8.5 percent drop from the previous year and the lowest number recorded since 1975, the earliest year for which statistics are available. Some 70 percent of gangs had less than 10 members, and legal adults made up over half of membership, continuing a trend over the past several years.According to the police agency, biker gang membership peaked at 42,510 in 1982, and has been falling ever since. The total number of groups stood at 651 in 2008, a 15.1 percent drop from the year before. Of those, 472 gangs had less than 10 members and no group had 50 or more. Also, 51 percent of the total membership was made up of adults. Adult membership surpassed the 50 percent mark for the first time in 2006.

Arrests of gang members for traffic law violations reached 307 in 2008, a 6.6 percent rise from the previous year. However, this increase is not just due to more charges of ignoring traffic signals and weaving along roads, but can be seen as the influence of November 2004 traffic law reforms which criminalized reckless driving in groups.

“The erosion of the biker gangs is continuing, but we are starting to notice guerilla-like smaller groups,” the police agency cautioned.”

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