Outcaste Politics and Organized Crime in Japan: The Effect of Terminating Ethnic Subsidies
Harvard Law School John M. Olin Center Discussion Paper No. 932
56 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2017
Date Written: September 7, 2017
In 1969, Japan launched a massive subsidy program for the "burakumin" outcastes. The subsidies attracted the mob, and the higher incomes now available through organized crime compensated those burakumin who abandoned the legal sector for criminal careers. In the process, the subsidies gave new support to the tendency many Japanese already had to equate the burakumin with the mob.
The government ended the subsidies in 2002. We explore the effect of the termination by merging 30 years of municipality data with a long-suppressed 1936 census of burakumin neighborhoods. First, we find that outmigration from municipalities with more burakumin increased after the end of the program. Apparently, the higher illegal income generated by the subsidies had restrained young burakumin from joining mainstream society. Second, we find that once the mob-tied corruption and extortion associated with the subsidies neared its end, real estate prices rose in municipalities with burakumin neighborhoods. With the subsidies gone and the mob in retreat, other Japanese found the formerly burakumin communities increasingly attractive places to live.
Keywords: organized crime; discrimination; outcastes; government subsidies
JEL Classification: H30, I26, I38, J49, K14, K38, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation