Root Out Japan's Yakuza

Japan is embarking on what may become the first publicly financed bailout of a national criminal underworld, its yakuza. No wonder Japanese taxpayers are up in arms! The Ministry of Finance is trying to rebuild Japan's fragile banking system following the excesses of the "bubble economy" of the late 1980s. But MOF bureaucrats are saying that the yakuza hold many of the nonperforming real estate and construction loans. And the tattooed tough guys refuse to pay up or sell off their assets. So, MOF officials believe the only solution is to finance the cleanup with public money.

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