Misato restaurant owners unite against protection money

Enough is enough. Restaurant owners of the Yoshiwara area in Misato, Okinawa City, decided to organize under the title “Break relationship with gangsters and stop paying protection money!”

The group held its first meeting on Oct. 24th at Okinawa City Welfare Center where Morihide Higa was elected the chairman of the group. “We urge every business owner in our area to stop paying ‘protection money’ that gangsters demand from business owners as a ‘bodyguard fee,’” Higa says.

This is the second such group in Okinawa after 40 restaurant owners in

Yataimura on Kokusai Street, Naha City, formed a similar group in May this year. About half of the owners of the restaurants in the area have joined so far. According to Okinawa Prefectural Police, they took action after an extortion attempt occurred at a restaurant in the area.

After organizing the group, Higa said, “We aim to make this area a good place to live, safe and peaceful without a threat of violence.”

In the future, the group plans to distribute member restaurants stickers stating, “We refuse gangsters!” and “We put the end to practices, such as protection money!” They will use their group unity to deter gangsters.

Hidetoshi Taira, the head of Okinawa Prefectural Police, emphasizes that, “Refusing as an individual business owner requires a lot of courage. It’s possible that there are many of cases that have not come out.”

Taira also appeals all business owners, “All law enforcement organizations extend strong support to you. We urge everyone to stop all relationships with gangsters.”