Kobe kids will need to find a new place to trick-or-treat.

Halloween has been steadily growing in popularity in Japan over the past few years, with the country adopting various customs of the celebration in stages. First came the cosplay, then the decorations around town and limited-time sweets.

Trick-or-treating, though, is something you’ll still only find in limited places, usually held during the day at neighborhood shopping streets or shopping centers…or, oddly enough, at the headquarters of the Yamaguchi-gumi, one of Japan’s largest yakuza clans.

The criminal organization has been handing out candy at Halloween at its Kobe HQ since 2013, beckoning kids to step inside the gates and onto the grounds of their complex with calls of “Happy Halloween!” and “Come on in and get your candy!” However, local children with a sweet tooth will have to get their fix elsewhere this year, as the Yamaguchi-gumi is now legally barred from giving sweets to trick-or-treaters.

This week the Prefectural Assembly of Hyogo, the prefecture Kobe is a part of, voted unanimously to revise the Organized Crime Exclusion Ordinances, adding provisions that make it illegal for a criminal organization to give gifts (monetary or otherwise) to minors, invite them onto the grounds of their facilities, or correspond with them. Exceptions are made for “legitimately justifiable reasons,” but handing out snacks in a blatant attempt to curry favor with young children doesn’t cut it, legislators say.

The revision, which goes into effect on October 26, was initially introduced for discussion in July, and comes after increased levels of gang violence in Hyogo since fall of last year. While Kanagawa Prefecture has a similar law on the books, Hyogo is the first in Japan to spell out specific punishments, with repeat offenders facing up to six months in jail or a fine of up to 500,000 yen (US$4,760).

Sources: Jiji, Asahi Shimbun Digital
Top image: Pakutaso
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