What is "Mikajime-ryo"? Do you have to pay Protection money/Mikajime-ryo when You have a Bar in Japan?
What is "3rd-closing-fee"?
We work with the polices/authorities/lawyers in/outside Japan from time to time to tackle various types of crimes/scammers.
When we helped companies enter Japan market, some asked us if they have to pay "protection money" to mafia groups when they open a bar, restaurant in Japan.
We were aware of the protection money activities in many countries. South Italy is probably well known. In many countries esp. emerging ones, you often really can not avoid such cost. Sometimes it is not a mafia group but the local authorities themselves ask for such money. In that case, you need to decide if you should really enter that market or go and find alternatives.
Yet, the impression of Japan is so peaceful so that very few expect such a crime exists. It is strange because many know Yakuza exist in Japan (from news, movies and games) and how they make a living?
Even in a peaceful looking part of Tokyo, some restaurant owners there told us that they pay some "fee" because it is a must. It surprises us.
It is called Mikajime-ryo ( literally meaning the "3rd-closing-fee"). The term is said to come from the closing day being a 3rd of every month or the deadline being a 3 day.
Our advise is "No" and if asked for such a money, go to the police right away and work with them closely.
At the same time, it means when you open a restaurant or even non food related business, there is always a risk that you may be asked to pay such money. It is because there are reports every year that people had to pay such money in Japan. The most recent one as of Dec, 2022 is from Hokkaido; in 2022 there were 46 cases where the authority had to render the orders to stop such activities in Hokkaido.
The mafia does not ask just money from you because it can criminalizes such an action easily. To avoid being arrested easily, it can be often some products to sell to you. Thus such a fee can be disguised as a normal business trade. Fake flowers/decorative fake plants and wet towels are common items the shop needs to buy. The police says that towards the end of the year the mafia group may try to sell some lucky charm ornaments for the new year for an excessive price.
The fee usually 3,000JPY per month to 10,000JPY per month based on the Hokkaido police. In Osaka case, one shop paid 20,000JPY per month in 2022.
If you open a sex related shop and a shop with high revenue potential, the risk is even higher. You need to carry out very careful research and also advise from the relevant authorities/experts in the field.