Shigeharu Shirai; Mob-Boss/Yakuza Arrested With The Help of Tattoos!

Shigeharu Shirai; Mob-Boss/Yakuza Arrested With The Help of Tattoos!
January 16
15:35 2018

Shigeharu Shirai; Arrested In Thailand Because of His Tattoos:

Last week Shigeharu Shirai was arrested in Thailand. The Japanese mob boss had eluded authorities for years, hiding out in Thailand.
But becuase of a specific tradition of the Japanese mob/the Yakuza, he was captured. After 10 years of hiding north of bangkok, the mobster was arrested through the help of his tattoos.

As you guys might already know (we wrote about it in our history fun facts series), the Yakuza all have very distinctive body-suits. They are unique to each individual and awarded to them, for their deeds. Shigeharu was of course, no exception to this rule.
So how did the authorities actually find him?

Apparently, it was never the intention of the people that made it possible, that he was captured. In fact they didn’t know it was him. What happened was, that a couple of Thai people, saw Shigeharu gambling and they were impressed with his tattoos. So much so, that they took a picture they shared online which went viral. Because of this, he was found by authorities and brought to justice.

The Viral Age of Tattooing:

This brings up an interesting point, which is especially poignant in this viral age of tattooing. Why do criminals tattoo? Or rather, we know why in many cases. But it seems ironic, as many of them become much more easily recognizable with tattoos.

Especially with the much more readily available information, both regarding gang, criminal and prison tattoos. People are much more able to see the difference, between those tattoos and “normal” people’s tattoos. Thus tattoos actually help to recognize criminal and deviant individuals, just like they did in the times in history, where only those individuals were tattooed.

So despite the popularity of tattoos today, they still help to identify people, which is useful with criminals like Shigeharu. Perhaps it is because of the general growing interest in tattoos, that he was caught. Had their not been such a growing interest, who is to say they would ever have taken a picture of Shigeharu?

Final Comment:

This is quite the unorthodox way, in which tattoos can play a positive role in society. However, it does not change the fact, that Shigeharu was caught because of his tattoos, after 10 years of hiding no less. Perhaps there are more cases like this around the world, of criminals being picked up because of their tattoos. Maybe we should start tattooing our criminals with their crimes again? haha…. joking aside though, this is a fascinating and cool story that we hope you guys enjoyed.

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About Author



Mads W. K. Masters of science in Sociology (Cand. Scient. Soc.), from the University of Copenhagen, who specializes in embodiment sociology, but especially in tattoos and tattoo culture etc.

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