Rumor: Game Developer’s Sister Kidnapped By Yakuza To Stop Their Cooperation With Nintendo

Every once and a while you see a story that stops you dead in your tracks — this is one of those cases. According to NintendoLife, in the newly published exposé about the untold history of Japan’s gaming industry author John Szczepaniak delves into an interview regaling how a developer’s sister was kidnapped to prevent him working with Nintendo. The developer, operating under a pseudonym (Hideo Nanashi), discussed the event alongside discussion of cancelled titles and politics of companies.

My younger sister was kidnapped. [REDACTED] hired some gangsters to do it. They did it to make me stop cooperating with Nintendo.

What does the Yakuza have to do with the Japanese arcade industry? Nanashi explains this and the culture behind it:

In Japan, you have these evil companies that always crop up, and unlike the West, in Japan there’s a perception that “play” is bad, the opposite of hard work. So amusement-oriented industries inevitably become infested with evil companies and ties to the underworld. Take arcades, for example. In legal terms, they’re covered under laws regarding the entertainment and amusement trades. So they’re managed under the same laws that regulate the adult, or “pink”, industry. Because of that, the underworld gets involved. The only companies that have been able to do business while staying clean are probably Nintendo and Namco.


Nanashi, while describing the story, mentioned how he managed to deal with the Yakuza to show he was serious:

It was one of their game machines. I dropped it in front of their offices, smashed it. And I told them that one of their employees would be next. To show them that I was serious. That way they would feel ashamed of their actions, you know? It was easy for me to get a [REDACTED] arcade cabinet cheaply, so I bought one from a distributor. I thought about robbing a [REDACTED] arcade, too, but that’s much more difficult, and that would make me a criminal. With what I ended up doing, I could have been charged with something like unlawful dumping of garbage, but that’s a minor offence. Whereas if I had robbed a [REDACTED] arcade, I would have been arrested. [REDACTED] was well-versed in using the underworld to get what they want, so if you’re going up against them, you have to be smart. They’re a big company, so if you try to fight them with ordinary methods, they’ll work with the police and get the legal system to come after you. They might even pay off a politician, like a member of the National Diet. Who knows what they’re capable of?

I just smashed it in front of their main office in the middle of the night. It was easy. The [REDACTED] headquarters are in [REDACTED] now, but back then they were near [REDACTED] Airport. Their office building was right in front of a major street, in a commercial district without any residential homes.

…I didn’t dump it myself. I had someone else do it, because I don’t have a driver’s license. I had him just drop the machine and dump it, so I don’t know how damaged it was, but I assume it smashed apart. And then I sent [REDACTED] a letter.

Here is the crazy thing — this isn’t the first time the unnamed company has been under fire for this:

I don’t know how much you know about [REDACTED], but are you aware of the “quarantine room” [隔離部屋, literal translation: “Isolation room”] problem from around the year 2000? They would put employees alone in a room and give them absolutely nothing to do, in order to make them resign. [REDACTED] did that, and former [REDACTED] employees sued them and won. That’s the kind of thing [REDACTED] did back then. They didn’t just put people behind a partition or something, they sent them away to a completely different floor of the building. [REDACTED] didn’t just lose a lawsuit over this, they completely tarnished their image. Nobody wanted to buy games from a company like that. It became a major social issue. Like this article, about [REDACTED] being sued for the quarantine room and issuing a public apology.

Of course, these are all interviews that have been included in Szczepaniak book and hasn’t been verified by us or Nintendo Life. However, it is a harrowing tale of the industry’s past.



  1. My sisters classmate got beaten up by the Yakuza when he was drunk. He didn’t come to school for 2 weeks. LOL! Just stay the fuck away from them. Whatever you do. Japan may seem like a big playground at first but it’s not. Far from.

    1. Well… at least companies tied to criminal organizations. I can’t imagine general companies like HAL Labs or Yacht Club Games breaking anyone’s knees lol

        1. Depends of the case. I know a guy who was being bothered by one of them for no real reason. The guy beat that thugh and the other yakuza actually applauded him because the goon was just a braindead idiot and a joke to them.

          But yeah, that wouldn’t sit well if it were a better considered member.

          1. My sister actually dated a Yakuza “trainee” ( as in maybe not a full member yet ) for a while. A pretty short while. lol Nothing bad happened but he explained he couldn’t take her to some places he had to go to in case shit blew up. She kinda just randomly found out when she wondered if she could meet his “friends”. Oops. You never know who could have connections, not if you follow her taste anyway. I’m not talking shit, she just never fell for the nice guys. lolololol

          2. The Yakuza, luckily, have honor so even a higher up could get his ass kicked by someone if he crossed a line & dishonored the rest of the Yakuza.

            1. Yeah, that’s whay I meant by saying that at least they aren’t as bad as other mobs (which is not really something good anyway, but it’s something).

              1. Well just like there are varying degrees of good, there are also varying degrees of evil. The Alignment System isn’t just a product of fantasy.

    1. From what I am getting from the source, I think they may be referring to Konami. However, I don’t have any verification on that besides “isolation rooms” and previous konami stories.

      1. Konami was my first suspect as well. They have a reputation alright. It shouldn’t be too hard to find if their previous HQ was located near Haneda or Narita.

  2. Crime here in the states is still the worse, I mean, for god’s sake, our police alone are considered the worse thugs in the world, and I’m not even gonna get into the gangs, drug cartel, racial conflicts, and mass shootings. It’s possible for someone to get murdered here, just for looking at someone.

      1. I know crime is pretty bad in the states, but yes, it does get worse when you go down south. I know Mexico has it worse at least, but the law doesn’t help either, bunch of crooked cops that take payments fr criminals.

  3. This is a tragic and important story, I know, I’m completely stupid to highlight such a tiny and marginal detail but: “The only companies that have been able to do business while staying clean are probably Nintendo and Namco” makes me a little proud! : )

  4. Honestly, got to love how you can deal with the yakuza and earn their respect just by breaking one arcade cabinet. Try that with the russians, see how they react. Cultural differences and all that.

    1. TL;dr: SEGA (allegedly — both identity and actions) sent Yakuza to kidnap a developer’s sister in the 90’s because they were talking about publishing with Nintendo. Dev. smashes an arcade machine outside their building to show he means business.

        1. Might seem silly to us, but I’m sure back then it was a big deal. Teaming up with the company you had a rivalry with, specially in Japan.

        2. It isn’t too far-fetched. They use arcades as fronts to hide their illegal activities and laundering money. So they are going to take whatever it takes to keep arcades from going out of fashion — then they have to find a new place or service to hide behind.

  5. I’m not really surprised by this. The Yakuza have a pretty strong reach in Japan, after all.

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