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Title: Yamaguchi-gumi


Hollander - April 20, 2007 10:59 AM (GMT)






Mobster, condo seller held in title scam
Link between falsification of building ownership and March slaying probed


A mob boss affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi and nine others were arrested Monday in connection with the filing of false documents on the ownership of a building in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo.

The Yamaguchi-gumi is Japan's largest underworld syndicate.



Tadamasa Goto, 63, head of the Goto-gumi syndicate, was arrested along with Susumu Nishioka, 52, president of condominium retailer Ryowa Life Create Co., and two of its employees.

Goto's oldest son, Masato, 36, former president of a Goto-gumi affiliated company, was also arrested.

There have been a number of incidents involving the building, which is in the Yoyogi district. In March, a 58-year-old real estate agent was slain while trying to deal with people living illegally in the building, police said.

Following Monday's arrests, police began investigating a possible connection between the forged documents and the March murder.

According to investigators, the company affiliated with the Goto-gumi owns part of the building, but the group led by Goto created and filed a false report claiming that ownership of the entire building had been transferred to the affiliate from Ryowa Life Create and another company, the sources said.

According to the Metropolitan Police Department, the Goto-gumi, which is based in Fujinomiya, Shizuoka Prefecture, has about 1,050 members in Tokyo and 11 prefectures. The group is believed to have played a key role in the Yamaguchi-gumi's move into Tokyo.

In 1992, a Goto-gumi member was arrested for attacking the late film director Juzo Itami.

Ryowa Life Create, based in Shibuya Ward, is listed on the second section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

"Although today is the day when our president speaks at our regular morning meeting, he didn't show up and we couldn't contact him. So we were wondering what happened," said the head of general affairs at Ryowa Life Create. "We are still waiting for a report from our lawyers."

The Japan Times: Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Enryakuji temple leaders resign over yakuza service

05/20/2006

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN


OTSU--Under fire for allowing a yakuza memorial rite at Enryakuji--the head temple of the Tendai sect of Buddhism--the temple's entire leadership has stepped down.

Chief representative and priest Gyoun Imadegawa and his six deputies all resigned Thursday to take responsibility for permitting a Yamaguchi-gumi memorial service to be held April 21 at the temple's Amidado Hall on Mount Hieizan.

About 90 people associated with the nation's largest crime syndicate attended, many of them bosses of its direct affiliates.

Enryakuji had rejected the Shiga prefectural police's request a day earlier to call off the event, saying it was too big to cancel on such short notice.

"It was a very careless act when expulsion of gangs is called for," the temple said in a statement.

"We deeply apologize for giving great trouble to police, Buddhist associations and others concerned."

The Yamaguchi-gumi's rite was held to memorialize its first to fourth bosses, police and temple authorities say.

Although the application to hold the service was filed in late March, the temple declared it was unaware of the yakuza connection until much later.

Police say they only learned of the event the day before it was held, and immediately asked the temple to cancel it.

They see the rite as both a fund-raiser and a demonstration of the authority of the organization's sixth boss, Kenichi Shinoda, currently in prison for violating the gun and sword control law.

The event brought in tens of millions of yen from the participants, police sources estimate.

About 70 police officers were mobilized for ensuring security. There was no notable trouble as the gathering was held in the evening after the temple had closed.

Police have asked Enryakuji to refuse any further yakuza memorials.

In 1976, the Japan Buddhist Federation, an umbrella group of more than 100 Buddhist sects, called on temples to refuse any services designed to help organized crime.

Enryakuji, on the border of Kyoto and Shiga prefectures, is designated a World Heritage site along with a group of Kyoto temples and shrines.

The temple will vote for a new chief representative on May 28.(IHT/Asahi: May 20,2006)



Inside the Yamaguchi-gumi: Ex-gangster's life a history of Japan's postwar underworld

24-5-06 AP

It was the summer of 1970. Though the Yamaguchi-gumi was easily the biggest gangster syndicate in Japan, with tens of thousands of members, it was still trying to crack the huge Tokyo market for vice, which was tightly controlled by smaller but deeply entrenched gangs.

Ishihara was one of the first Yamaguchi-gumi bosses to try to break their monopoly. With several underlings, he rented a small apartment near a popular red-light district and started a series of scams aimed at cheating the competition out of its profits.

"We'd target other gangs," he recalled, "mainly because they had money and they weren't going to run off and complain to the police."

Often, he would deliberately arrange a violent confrontation with a local gang that would lead to a negotiated truce, and then an alliance. If that didn't work, he had an array of other options that usually had a common result -- money in his pocket.

Those were simpler times, when the most fertile racket was gambling. Nowadays the code of Japanese organized crime is wilting under the onslaught of drug trafficking, cybercrime, tougher policing and inroads by gangsters from neighboring China. Japanese crime remains as organized as it gets, but today, Ishihara says, "It's more wild than it used to be."

Still, even back in the supposedly more orderly 1970s, it didn't take long for Ishihara's operation to get out of hand.

One August night, Ishihara drove up to a club where he heard a rival gang -- the Kokusui-kai, or Japan Purity League -- was running a high-stakes card game. He waited with two fellow gangsters until one of the rivals came outside. Ishihara signaled for him to get in their car, but he panicked and fled. Ishihara chased him down, they fought, and Ishihara slashed his thigh with a short samurai sword. With a major vein cut clean through, the gangster quickly bled to death.

"I hadn't intended to kill him, I just wanted to shake him down," said Ishihara. At 32, he was sentenced to eight years for the murder. It wasn't the first time -- or the last -- that he would go to jail.

And every time he got out, the Yamaguchi-gumi was there waiting for him. And each time, it had grown bigger, stronger and richer.

Japanese gangs -- called yakuza, which refers to a bad hand in cards -- generally have a simple, pyramid-style structure.

Atop the Yamaguchi-gumi is Kenichi Shinoda, aka Shinobu Tsukasa. He assumed the helm on July 29 last year, but started serving a six-year sentence for gun possession four months later.

Ishihara had met Shinoda in prison. Shinoda, too, had just killed a man with a sword.

"I never imagined he would rise so high," Ishihara said. "But there was something about him."

Below Shinoda are 100 or so bosses who control the "direct affiliates." Each of these, in turn, has its own network, often creating as many as six or seven layers. The lowliest gangs claim membership in just the dozens, if that.

Shinoda's post is largely ceremonial. Most day-to-day decisions are made by the gang's 15 or 20 strongest bosses, who have titles such as "supreme adviser" or "young leader."

The National Police Agency estimates the Yamaguchi-gumi has roughly 40,000 active members, plus thousands who are associated with it but have not taken formal vows. It's among the world's biggest criminal organizations, with annual revenues estimated at over a billion dollars.

Though still based in the western Japan city of Kobe, where it was founded by Harukichi Yamaguchi in 1915, the Yamaguchi-gumi (the "gumi" means gang, or group) is now a major force in Tokyo. Last year, it even swallowed up the rival gang Ishihara tried to shake down decades ago, which itself had been one of Japan's biggest.

Nearly half of all gangsters in Japan belong to the Yamaguchi-gumi, a trend police fear will continue.

Operating a small, independent gang is risky. The Yamaguchi-gumi offers protection and a nationwide network, crucial in running black-market and drug operations. Equally important, however, is the scare value of the gang's name. Just dropping the Yamaguchi-gumi name is enough to make an extortion victim pay up.

Ishihara said each gang must pay monthly dues to the next gang up -- an estimated 10 million yen for each of the top 100 gangs, translating into an estimated 11.1 billion yen a year or more in dues alone.

"Failing to pay isn't taken lightly," he said.

The Ishihara gang was typical of the Yamaguchi-gumi. Its few dozen members concentrated on the gambling and the sex industries. When prostitution didn't pay enough, Ishihara would lure male customers into compromising situations and blackmail them. At his peak, Ishihara said, he made about 10 million yen a month.

Almost as important as the money, however, was the feeling of belonging.

Yakuza gangs are notoriously tight-knit, bound together by elaborate rituals in which sips of rice wine and vows of loyalty are exchanged, turning underlings into "sons" or "brothers" and bosses into "fathers."

Old-school gangsters show their lifetime commitment with full-body tattoos featuring flaming dragons, leaping tigers or Buddhist gods.

A gangster who, for instance, disobeys an order or misses a payment to his boss may have to cut off his own fingertip. Members who are expelled -- a punishment reserved for the most severe disobedience -- become total outcasts, shunned by other gangs and legitimate employers.

Ishihara said the gangs will always have a ready pool of recruits because they offer an option for young people with nowhere else to go -- runaways, minorities, dropouts, anyone who doesn't fall into the acceptable social pattern.

For Ishihara, it was a perfect fit.

He ran away from home at age 12, just five years after the end of World War II. A bar hostess took him in and taught him to read. Three years later, he was back on the streets and in a gang. At 22 he formally became a member of the Yamaguchi-gumi.

That was also the year he was first convicted and sent to prison, for armed robbery.

He would spend 20 of the next 43 years behind bars.

Five years ago, after his latest prison stint ended, Ishihara "washed his feet" -- gang parlance for retiring.

"It's relatively easy to get out, as long as you have the permission of your superiors," he said. "In fact, once you reach a certain level, it is important that you retire so younger people can rise up to take your place."

He's a stout, healthy 68, shaves his head and wears pinstripes. He retains the flair of his gangster days, is a popular commentator in the tabloid press and has even written a couple of books in which, improbable though it may seem, he offers advice on love and relationships based on his experiences in dealing with women as a gang boss.

"There is nothing more important to a yakuza than women," he said. "You never know when you are going to get sent up, or killed, so you learn not to take them for granted."

Ishihara met his current wife, Yoko, while he was in prison -- they corresponded with each other for nine months and were wed without ever actually seeing each other in person. He said he chose to quit the Yamaguchi-gumi because she gave him a new reason to live. He also said he knew he would otherwise end up back in prison -- he claims that out of spite he exposed a corrupt police officer and was being targeted by police seeking revenge.

But he also said that he felt the underworld had changed while he was locked away.

"When I joined, there was a kind of mystique to the yakuza," he said. "Now, it's different. People look at us differently."

Japanese police call it the "mafia-ization" of the yakuza.

When Ishihara first went to prison, he left behind a gang that swaggered. Since Yamaguchi-gumi membership, per se, wasn't a crime, gangsters made no secret of it. They wore lapel pins with their gang logo, put up signs outside their headquarters and printed up business cards stating gang and rank.

In return for the long leash, gangsters were expected to observe certain rules. Violence was generally kept low, and between gangsters or their customers. Gangsters would sometimes exchange information with police, or even turn themselves in.

But Ishihara said the business has evolved dramatically, and police reports back that up.

Drugs -- especially methamphetamines -- now take up a bigger share of the underworld's business, along with stock market manipulation, cybercrime and other new areas. The gambling market has all but vanished. An influx of gangsters from China has broken down old barriers and traditions, raising tensions and violence.

The relationship between gangsters and police has also changed.

Escalating gang wars led to crackdowns and eventually new laws in 1995 strictly limiting gangster activities in public, creating a gangster registry, toughening punishments and making it easier to prosecute organized crime.

But results are mixed. According to the National Police Agency's most recent estimates, annual arrest numbers are around 30,000 and declining, while the number of gang members has risen.

Ishihara said the new laws effectively cut off the cooperation between police and gangsters, sending organized crime deeper underground but doing little to actually dismantle the big syndicates.

"There will always be a Yamaguchi-gumi," he said.


Writer targeted over mob stories
06/19/2006

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN


A nonfiction writer and specialist on the inner workings of the nation's largest organized crime syndicate is facing increased mob pressure to tone down his reports, according to sources.

Gangsters are also targeting the family of Atsushi Mizoguchi, 63, in an apparent effort to keep him quiet, the sources said.

In 1990, Mizoguchi was stabbed by an unknown assailant shortly after he published a book about the Kobe-based Yamaguchi-gumi.

This time, his son took the brunt of the gang's disapproval. The 33-year-old company employee was stabbed in the right leg during an attack in Mitaka in western Tokyo in January, police said.

While two men arrested May 30 in connection with the assault both have links to the underworld via the Yamaken-gumi, a major affiliate of the nationwide syndicate, they have refused to give any motive, said police.

Sources, however, say the attack was made after Mizoguchi refused to retract an article published in a monthly magazine last year about recent power shifts within the Yamaguchi-gumi.

They said police suspect the attack was an attempt to muzzle Mizoguchi amid increased rivalry following the recent reshuffling of the gang's leadership.

Kenichi Shinoda, the head of the Nagoya-based Kodo-kai gang who is also known as Shinobu Tsukasa, took over as kumicho, or gang boss, in July 2005. He replaced Yoshinori Watanabe, originally from the Yamaken-gumi.

In a weekly magazine article in mid-November, Mizoguchi claimed the change in leadership would weaken Yamaken's influence within the Yamaguchi-gumi.

On Nov. 22, the sources said, senior Yamaken members and others met Mizoguchi and senior editors from the publisher at a Kobe hotel and demanded the story be retracted or a correction printed.

Mizoguchi agreed and struck a deal in which he would run a story on the power relationships of gangsters in the magazine's next issue.

Meanwhile, Mizoguchi wrote another story, published in the December 2005 issue of Gekkan Gendai, focusing on Tsukasa. It said the new boss had taken the leadership through a "bloodless coup."

Again, mobsters requested Mizoguchi print a correction of the story. This time, however, he refused. His son was attacked about a month later.

While police and other sources say Watanabe's replacement last year was due to his health problems, Mizoguchi maintained that senior gang members in fact forced Watanabe to step aside.

Tsukasa is the first person from outside the Kansai region to take the reins of the Yamaguchi-gumi and, according to observers, intense rivalry could arise.

"Mizoguchi's articles that focused on inside stories of internal power balance and other issues would appear provoking to them (gang members)," a police official said.(IHT/Asahi: June 19,2006)


Gangster's bribes let guard live it up
08/21/2006

The Asahi Shimbun


OSAKA--Bribes from a gangster held at Osaka Detention House allowed a corrupt guard to take his family on all-expenses paid trips to Tokyo Disneyland and a hot spring resort, police said.

In return for Yoshio Amano's largess, the guard arranged for the gangster to be transferred to a detention cell without a surveillance camera, even though he was designated as someone to be put under constant watch, police said.

Katsuhiko Kuwano, 37, was arrested Saturday, and on Sunday police referred the case to prosecutors.

Amano, 66, heads an Osaka-based syndicate that is affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi, the nation's largest organized crime syndicate. Kuwano, who police say admitted taking bribes for favors, was quoted as saying: "I gradually lost my moral ground over the 14 years I had been working there."

Police said they suspect that Kuwano was acquainted with Amano prior to his incarceration.

Katsuyuki Yasue, 42, one of Amano's henchmen, was also arrested Saturday for his role in the case.

And on Monday, Osaka prefectural searched the Osaka Detention House, confiscating Kuwano's attendance records and other documents related to Amano's detention.

They said they hoped to find evidence that Kuwano was under the absolute patronage of Amano.

According to investigators, Amano instructed Yasue in July 2004 to arrange for Kuwano to take his family to the Tokyo Disney Resort as well as Atami, a spa town in Shizuoka Prefecture.

Yasue made round-trip reservations for deluxe Green Car seats on Shinkansen bullet trains.

All the arrangements were made by the travel department of a credit company used by Amano, and the expenses were withdrawn from a bank account in his name.

In total, Amano spent about 400,000 yen on Kuwano. In addition to the trips, in which no expense was spared, Kuwano is believed to have received tens of thousands of yen in cash as spending money, sources said.

When Amano arrived at the detention house on July 2, 2004, officials concluded he should remain under constant surveillance because of his suspected involvement in the shooting death of a senior member from a rival gang.

Amano was held in a solitary cell equipped with camera surveillance and Kuwano was put in charge of him. Amano immediately requested that he be moved. He said being under constant camera surveillance made him feel uneasy.

Kuwano then submitted the relevant documents to his supervisor so the transfer could take place.

The private cells were nearly all full at the time, making it difficult to transfer detainees, sources noted.

On July 7, Yasue made the reservations for Kuwano and his family to travel.(IHT/Asahi: August 21,2006)


Dad, son behind bars for 'revenge' assault
09/01/2006
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

The Tokyo District Court on Thursday sentenced two men with yakuza ties to prison terms of six and four years each for assaulting the son of a journalist.
The court's Hachioji branch handed a six-year term to Takao Ueno, 54, who operates a construction firm in western Tokyo's Hino, and four years to his adopted son Hiroshi, 43.
In January, the two attacked the eldest son of writer Atsushi Mizoguchi, who had written magazine articles about the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan's largest crime syndicate.
"They tried to suppress unfavorable opinions and acts with violence," said Presiding Judge Satomi Matsubara. "Their acts were selfish."
Prosecutors had sought seven years for the elder Ueno and five years for his son.
According to the ruling, the two men approached Mizoguchi's son on a road in Mitaka, western Tokyo, around 10:40 a.m. on Jan. 8 and stabbed him in the right thigh with scissor blades.
The attack was aimed at preventing Mizoguchi from writing about a Yamaguchi-gumi leader.
They were arrested on May 30. On July 3, police announced that another man, Kobe resident Yasutsugu Uoyama, a former boss of a gang affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi, had also been arrested.
Uoyama has been charged with conspiring with the Uenos to carry out the assault.
"The attack is a revenge against my stories and speeches," Mizoguchi said when the Uenos were arrested. "It is a serious incident that challenges the freedom of speech and expression."
He added: "It is underhanded and sordid to injure my family member, who is not related to my job."(IHT/Asahi: September 1,2006)


October 04, 2006

U.S. seizes $600,000 from convicted Japanese money launderer

LAS VEGAS (AP) - U.S. immigration authorities said Wednesday that nearly $600,000 seized from the accounts of a convicted Japanese gangster had been put into a government fund meant to help fight organized crime.

Susumu Kajiyama, 57, once known as Japan's "Loan Shark Czar," is serving a seven-year sentence in Japan on loan sharking and international money laundering charges.

Agents seized $342,000 from two of Kajiyama's bank accounts from the Union Bank of California in Los Angeles and $250,000 from his account at the MGM Grand casino-hotel in Las Vegas in January 2005.

After a review process, the funds were cleared for deposit in the U.S. Treasury fund, said a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Japanese authorities arrested Kajiyama and five other alleged conspirators in June 2004 for laundering 4.6 billion yen ($39 million) from loan-sharking profits through overseas financial institutions.

Japanese authorities have said Kajiyama is a senior member of the Yamaguchi-gumi crime gang and headed the Tokyo-based loan sharking operations for the Goryo-Kai, a subgroup of the Yamaguchi-gumi.

The Yamaguchi-gumi is Japan's largest organized crime group with an estimated 20,000 known members.


Gangster acquitted in murder of boss, boss's wife
Wednesday, November 22, 2006 at 07:52 EST
TOYAMA The Toyama District Court on Tuesday acquitted a gangster indicted for killing his boss and the boss's wife in Takaoka, Toyama Prefecture. Prosecutors had sought the death sentence against Kumio Kurihara, 55, second-in-command of a gang group affiliated with the crime syndicate Yamaguchi-gumi, arguing he masterminded the murder of Shuhei Yabunaka, 56, and his wife at their home on July 13, 2000.
Kurihara was accused of conspiring with two other gang members, both of whom are appealing their death sentences to the Supreme Court, and killing the couple to protest Yabunaka's high-handed management of the gang.


Police raid gangster headquarters over series of shooting incidents

MPD investigators arrive at the headquarters of the Kobayashi-kai in the Ginza district of Tokyo for a search on Thursday.Police raided the headquarters and other offices of an affiliate of the Sumiyoshi-kai crime syndicate on Thursday over a series of incidents in which shots were fired at facilities linked to a rival gang group, investigators said.

The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) searched the Tokyo headquarters and two other offices of the Kobayashi-kai on suspicion of violating the Firearms and Swords Control Law.

On Tuesday, the MPD arrested Hideo Numano, 43, and Koji Ueno, 40, both senior members of the Kobayashi-kai, for firing shots at an apartment in the Dogenzaka district of Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, which had been previously occupied by a group linked to the rival Kokusui-kai crime syndicate.

Investigators allege that the shooting attacks on the Kokusui-kai, which is affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi, were in retaliation for the shooting death of Ryoichi Sugiura, 43, a senior member of the Kobayashi-kai. (Mainichi)


Gangs reconcile over turf war in Tokyo
Friday, February 9, 2007 at 07:15 EST

TOKYO Japan's two major crime syndicates reconciled with each other over a turf war in Tokyo on Thursday, days after the killing of a senior member in one gang provoked what are believed to have been retaliatory shootings against a rival group's offices, investigative sources said.

Authorities believe that the turf war between the Kobe-based Yamaguchi-gumi and the Tokyo-based Sumiyoshi-kai is likely to wind down now that the reconciliation has been reached, but they will keep close watch over the two syndicates' movements, the sources said.


Cover Story: Turf war
02/15/2007

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN



Roppongi attracts more than just people seeking a fun night out. Yakuza gangs have been battling for control of the area's protection money.(Asahi Shimbun File Photo)

The gang war that flared last week in Tokyo was rooted in a turf battle over protection rackets in the Roppongi entertainment district, yakuza sources say.

On one side is the Kobayashi-kai, which is affiliated with the Sumiyoshi-kai.

Facing off against the Kobayashi-kai is the Kokusui-kai, which is affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi.

The Yamaguchi-gumi and the Sumiyoshi-kai are the nation's two biggest crime syndicates.

Bosses from the two sides met last Thursday and reached an agreement that police officials hope will end the spate of shootings between the two rival crime syndicates. No civilians were injured, although a senior member of the Kobayashi-kai was gunned down in broad daylight.

The Kobayashi-kai, according to sources, controls the collection of protection money from bars and restaurants in Roppongi.

Police sources said the collection of protection money was originally in the hands of the Kokusui-kai. However, in exchange for a percentage of the cut, the Kokusui-kai is said to have "lent" the rights to the protection racket to the Kobayashi-kai.

Sources close to organized crime groups said problems surfaced after September 2005 when the Kokusui-kai switched allegiance and joined the Yamaguchi-gumi.

The Kokusui-kai had been a long-time member of the Kanto Hatsuka-kai, a federation of crime syndicates in the Kanto region, including the Sumiyoshi-kai and the Inagawa-kai.

The Kanto Hatsuka-kai had an unwritten agreement with the Yamaguchi-gumi that prevented the Kansai-based gang from opening offices in the Kanto area.

However, after the Kokusui-kai joined the Yamaguchi-gumi, it began pressing the Kobayashi-kai for a bigger cut or even a return of the protection racket.

Police sources said fueling the dispute was the increasing ambiguity over the percentage to be paid.

"The original agreement had a certain percentage of the profits paid monthly (to Kokusui-kai), but recently, lump-sum payments were being made only during the summer and year-end gift-giving seasons," said one police source.

After the senior member of the Kobayashi-kai was killed, retaliatory shootings, which eventually targeted the Kokusui-kai, led police officials to raise concerns that a full-fledged war loomed.

The question of who should control the protection racket in Roppongi was the key issue in the negotiations that led to the reconciliation between the two sides.

According to sources, the first move toward reconciliation occurred Feb. 7, when Yamaguchi-gumi officials came to Tokyo to meet with Kobayashi-kai officials.

The first contact did not lead to an immediate cease-fire because the Kobayashi-kai members insisted it had received the rights to the Roppongi protection money from the Kokusui-kai.

On Feb. 8, another meeting was held between the bosses in which an agreement was reached that confirmed the Kobayashi-kai had in fact borrowed the protection money rights from the Kokusui-kai.

Sources also said Yamaguchi-gumi bosses admitted their members were involved in the fatal shooting and that compensation money was paid by the Yamaguchi-gumi to Kobayashi-kai bosses.

Police sources said because the bosses from the two sides agreed to a reconciliation, the shootings should end.

Back in 2005, police officials were concerned that by using the Kokusui-kai as a foothold, the Yamaguchi-gumi might try bolder methods in the future to make its presence known in the Tokyo area.

Leading Kanto-based gangs were also keeping an eye out for any intrusion into their turf by the Kokusui-kai or the Yamaguchi-gumi.

One source with inside knowledge of the gangs said, "The incident served notice that the Yamaguchi-gumi has a hand in the crime interests in Roppongi."(IHT/Asahi: February 15,2007)


Gang boss found shot dead at home in apparent suicide

The boss of a gang affiliated with Japan's largest crime syndicate was found dead at his home in Tokyo's Taito-ku on Thursday, apparently after committing suicide by shooting himself, police said.

Kazuyoshi Kudo, head of the Kokusui-kai, a gang affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi crime syndicate, was found dead at his home when police arrived at about 9:20 a.m. on Thursday.

A handgun was found near Kudo's body. Based on evidence found at the scene, police suspect 70-year-old Kudo used the weapon to kill himself.

Investigators said Kudo was lying dead on a sofa in the second-floor living room of his home, bleeding from the head. A gang member who found him reported his death to Asakusa Police Station.

This month three shootings targeting Yamaguchi-gumi gangs have occurred. The shootings, believed to have been carried out by members of gangs affiliated with the rival Sumiyoshi-kai crime syndicate followed the fatal Feb. 5 shooting of a high-ranking member of a Sumiyoshi-kai affiliated gang. In one incident a bullet was also shot into a condominium housing a Kokusui-kai affiliated gang office.

On Feb. 8, the Yamaguchi-gumi and Sumiyoshi-kai reportedly agreed to discontinue fighting, and conflict between the two crime syndicates had died down since then.

The series of shootings was believed to have been sparked by a conflict between the Kokusui-kai and gangsters affiliated with the Sumiyoshi-kai over gang turf. Sources close to the gangs said that despite the agreement between the two crime syndicates, talk on the treatment of Kudo had continued.

Police said it was unlikely that Kudo's suicide would lead to more rivalry between the gangs, but warned that internal conflict within the Yamaguchi-gumi and Kokusui-kai related to issues including Kudo's successor could occur.

The Kokusui-kai is based in Tokyo's Taito-ku and has about 1,060 members and affiliates. Kudo assumed leadership of the gang in 1991. In 2005 the gang came under the direct control of the Yamaguchi-gumi, and Kudo was appointed as a top advisor to the Yamaguchi-gumi. (Mainichi)


Police raid offices of mobster group over fatal shooting
Wednesday, February 21, 2007 at 16:31 EST

TOKYO Police on Wednesday raided the offices of a mobster group affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi, the nation's largest crime syndicate, on suspicion its members were involved in the recent killing of a senior member of the rival Sumiyoshi-kai.

Although the Tokyo metropolitan police have yet to identify the suspects, they searched the Kokusui-kai's headquarters in Tokyo's Taito Ward and 10 other locations on murder and weapons violation charges, believing it to have been involved in the Feb 5 shooting, they said. Two men believed to be responsible for the killing of a 43-year-old senior Sumiyoshi-kai member on a street in Tokyo's Minato Ward are still on the run.


Police raid Yamaguchi-gumi headquarters over shooting death of rival gangster


Investigators enter the headquarters of the Yamaguchi-gumi in Nada-ku, Kobe, on Monday morning.
KOBE -- Police raided the headquarters of the Yamaguchi-gumi gang on Monday over the shooting death of a senior member of a rival affiliate of the Sumiyoshi-kai crime syndicate, investigators said.

This is the second raid that the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has conducted over the incident following its search of the headquarters of the Kokusui-kai, an affiliate of the Yamaguchi-gumi.

Investigators suspect that at least one organization under the umbrella of the Yamaguchi-gumi, the nation's largest crime syndicate, was involved in the killing even though the MPD says it has not identified the suspect.

Before 10 a.m. on Monday, about 100 riot police officers armed with shields surrounded the Yamaguchi-gumi headquarters in Nada-ku, Kobe. An investigator showed a search warrant issued by a court to a gang member and entered the facility with some 130 colleagues.

The shooting incident occurred in Tokyo on the morning of Feb. 5, MPD investigators said. Two men shot dead Ryoichi Sugiura, 43, a senior member of a Sumiyoshi-kai affiliate, on a street in the Nishiazabu district of Minato-ku.

Shots were subsequently fired at several buildings that house organizations linked to the Yamaguchi-gumi in Tokyo in alleged retaliation for the slaying of Sugiura. Tokyo police believe the Yamaguchi-gumi and the Sumiyoshi-kai settled the conflict through negotiations on Feb. 8.

Investigators have obtained insider information that the Yamaguchi-gumi has admitted that an affiliate was responsible for the killing of Sugiura, MPD sources said.

As of the end of last year, organizations under the umbrella of the Yamaguchi-gumi had 20,600 members across the country, accounting for 50 percent of all gangsters in Japan, according to the National Police Agency. (Mainichi)

February 26, 2007

Hollander - June 4, 2007 07:47 AM (GMT)
Banker, gangster arrested for murder
Friday, June 1, 2007 at 12:34 EDT

OSAKA Police on Friday arrested a Sumitomo Mitsu bank employee and a top official of a crime syndicate on charges of killing a man whose body was found in Kii Ohshima, Wakayama Prefecture, last December. Arrested were Mikine Nakatsuji, 39, deputy sales manager for a SMBC bank branch in Osaka, and Koichi Morimoto, 41, a member of a syndicate affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi.

The two allegedly broke into the apartment of Wataru Ishikawa, 34, and assaulted him. Police said that Ishikawa died later from his injuries. Nakatsuji, who told police that he met Morimoto in a pub three years ago, said that he did not take part in the assault, but admitted to being in the apartment. The two suspects have so far given no motive for the attack, police said.


Hollander - June 13, 2007 04:28 PM (GMT)
Gang offices searched over phone scams
The Yomiuri Shimbun

Police searched the offices of two gangs affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi crime syndicate in Sapporo on Tuesday on suspicion of swindling more than 60 people in the Tokyo area out of a total of 100 million yen through phone scams. Three gangsters have been arrested in connection with the case.

Most of the swindled money was spent to open adult entertainment shops in a commercial area in Sapporo, according to the police. It is rare for money taken through phone scams to be linked to gang business.

The Metropolitan Police Department and the Hokkaido police on Tuesday morning searched the head office of Yamaguchi-gumi affiliate Seiyukai and an office of a smaller gang affiliated with Seiyukai.

(Jun. 13, 2007)

Hollander - June 15, 2007 12:19 PM (GMT)
Cop's computer leak included info on hundreds of yakuza

Information on a crime syndicate was among a massive volume of data that has leaked from a Tokyo police officer's personal computer through the file-exchange software Winny, documents obtained by the Mainichi Shimbun have shown.

Since the information was stored in a 26-year-old senior officer's personal computer, it has raised questions about the Metropolitan Police Department's management of internal information, high-ranking police officials said.

"We must review the way we manage data," said Hirofumi Kitamura, a senior official of the MPD's Personnel and Training Bureau.

"It's a grave situation as we've strictly instructed officers to properly manage internal information. The officer faces severe punitive measures," National Police Agency chief Iwao Uruma said. "We must continue our instruction so that all officers and other staff members of police departments will be fully aware of the importance of information management."

Among the documents is a list of the names, addresses and other personal information on about 400 members and associate members of Yamaguchi-gumi and those linked to the gang.

A list of organizations linked to Yamaguchi-gumi also shows at least 2,000 pieces of information including its liaison offices and affiliated companies.

Moreover, another document lists some 1,000 locations where license plate number reading devices are installed -- information that police have withheld.

The MPD has confirmed that the officer copied most of the leaked data from a personal computer belonging to a 32-year-old sergeant. The MPD is also questioning the sergeant over how he obtained the information. (Mainichi)

June 15, 2007

Hollander - September 3, 2007 10:18 AM (GMT)
Policeman shot during raid on Yokohama apartment
Saturday, September 1, 2007 at 14:13 EDT

YOKOHAMA A Tokyo police officer was shot and seriously injured in the left arm Saturday when he and other officers were trying to enter an apartment in Yokohama linked to mobsters on suspicion of a firearms control law violation. The gunman and another man in the apartment fled the scene and remain at large. They apparently made off with a gun as no firearms were left in the apartment, which is linked to a gang group associated with the Yamaguchi-gumi crime syndicate, police said.

"It is unfortunate that they got away," said Hiroshi Muramoto, vice head of the Metropolitan Police Department's Shinjuku Police Station. Officers from the police station went to the apartment early Saturday morning after the station received a tip-off late Friday night that a handgun was hidden in the apartment, MPD officials said.

After two men arrived at the site by taxi and entered the apartment, which was on the first floor, the officers tried to gain entrance but one of the men came out of the apartment and locked the entrance door from the outside, the officials said.

While one officer was trying to prize open the door, three other officers moved around to the balcony of the apartment.

At around 5:20 a.m., the other man inside the apartment fired a shot, injuring one of the three officers, a 41-year-old assistant police inspector.

The man outside the apartment fled during the confusion caused by the shooting.

Officers from the Kanagawa prefectural police meantime arrived at the scene and surrounded the apartment, believing that the other man was holed up inside.

After they asked neighbors to evacuate they stormed the apartment at around 7:50 a.m., but officers found nobody there.




Monday, Sept. 3, 2007

Ex-gangster held over shooting of cop in Yokohama
YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) A 37-year-old former yakuza was arrested Sunday in connection with a shooting incident the day before that left a police officer seriously injured during a search of a Yokohama apartment.

Another suspect who was at the scene was still at large, police said.


Masumi Fukuhara, a former member of a gang connected to Japan's largest crime syndicate, the Yamaguchi-gumi, reportedly admitted to shooting the 41-year-old officer in the arm. He said he threw the handgun away, according to the police.

Fukuhara was apprehended in Osaka, they said.

The police also said they were trying to locate Katsuhiro Katayama, 35, who is connected to a different criminal group and is wanted for allegedly obstructing the raid as he allegedly blocked officers' attempts to enter the Kanagawa Ward apartment.

Hollander - September 25, 2007 08:22 AM (GMT)
Prosecutors not to appeal ex-banker's acquittal in money-laundering case
Sunday, September 23, 2007 at 06:29 EDT

TOKYO The Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office has decided not to appeal a high court's acquittal of a former Japanese employee at the Hong Kong unit of Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse in a money-laundering case, sources familiar with the case said Saturday.



The decision follows the Tokyo High Court's Sept. 12 acquittal of Atsushi Doden, 44, of laundering some 9.4 billion yen on behalf of a gangster, who operated a loan-shark network. The high court turned down an appeal by public prosecutors against a Tokyo District Court ruling in March last year that found him not guilty of laundering money for the network affiliated with Japan's largest underworld syndicate, the Yamaguchi-gumi.


Hollander - October 6, 2007 09:50 AM (GMT)
Yamaguchi-gumi's 'old school' enforcer announces retirement from yakuza life



KOBE -- Saizo Kishimoto, the top advisor of Japan's largest organized crime syndicate the Yamaguchi-gumi and part of the "old school" of yakuza, has told the gang he intends to retire.

The 79-year-old Kishimoto is a member of the "Third Generation," the group of yakuza members who were contemporaries of the late Kazuo Taoka, the third leader of the Yamaguchi-gumi.

His retirement is one of many this year from older yakuza leaders and marks a generational change, especially as the gang is in the hands of wakagashira Kiyoshi Takayama, the right hand man of incarcerated Yamaguchi-gumi head Kenichi Shinoda, the sixth leader of the organization who is familiarly known as Shinobu Tsukasa.

"It's true many of the older gang bosses are getting pushed out of the way," a Yamaguchi-gumi source says on condition of anonymity. "I'd say some of the older bosses are having trouble keeping up with the young guys."

Police echo this opinion.

"Takayama hasn't been one of the top gang bosses for that long. I guess he thinks the older bosses are a pain the neck," a police investigator, also speaking anonymously, says.

Police from the Osaka and Hyogo prefectural police forces said that Kishimoto has a rare background for a yakuza member, having once been a respectable employee of the Kobe Municipal Government. He became a chokkei kumicho, or leader of one of the top gangs within the Yamaguchi-gumi, in 1973. He has been one of the most influential leaders of the Yamaguchi-gumi for the past few decades.

This year, 13 chokkei kumicho have retired from the yakuza world, four of them like Kishimoto rising during the gang's third generation leadership period under Taoka and another two who came to prominence under Taoka's successor. Rumors within the gang are that more older yakuza bosses are also preparing to pull the plug on their careers.

Takayama, meanwhile, has only been a chokkei kumicho since April 2005, when the Yamaguchi-gumi's fifth leader Yoshinori Watanabe retired. Shinoda took over, elevating Takayama to the post of wakagashira in July 2005 after he had been his main lieutenant in a Yamaguchi-gumi affiliated gang, the Kodokai.

There are an estimated 39,700 members of the Yamaguchi-gumi. The gang contains 91 chokkei kumicho. Since Shinoda assumed the mantle of leadership of the gang, it has maintained a stranglehold over information about it, with members banned from communicating with the police, making the organization even less transparent than it had been before.

Hollander - October 26, 2007 10:06 AM (GMT)
Extortion over disgraced actor's debts lands yakuza peon in the clink
OSAKA -- A man with yakuza ties was sentenced to jail on Friday, after extorting one of disgraced actor Kenji Haga's creditors into canceling his 400 million debt for a quarter of the actual sum.

Yuji Hatsushika, 57, was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison by the Osaka District Court after threatening to send other gang members after the 51-year-old real estate company boss if he didn't settle for 100 million yen, a quarter of the original sum owed by Haga, 46.

Hatsushika is affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi yakuza syndicate.

A court judge said in handing down the ruling, "By directly threatening the victim, the defendant was deeply involved in the crime."


Hollander - November 3, 2007 03:23 PM (GMT)
Gangster, woman found dead in Nagano in apparent murder-suicide

SUWA, Nagano -- A yakuza gang member wanted in connection with a Wednesday shooting was found dead in a car here together with the body of a 66-year-old woman in what appeared to be a murder-suicide, police said.

Police identified the victims as Hironori Jochi, 56, a high-ranking member of a gang affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi crime syndicate, and Shoko Shimotake, a corporate executive from Tokyo.

Investigators said an officer from Suwa Police Station found the pair in the vehicle, which was parked at the side of a prefectural road in Suwa, at about 12:50 p.m. on Friday.

A revolver was found inside the vehicle, leading police to suspect a murder-suicide.

Metropolitan Police Department investigators had been searching for Jochi, suspecting he was responsible for an incident in the predawn hours of Wednesday in which shots were fired at a parked car in Tokyo's Itabashi-ku. Police plan to second documents on Jochi to public prosecutors over the shooting incident.

iMainichi Japanj November 3, 2007

Hollander - January 5, 2008 11:28 AM (GMT)
Cops responding to report of gunfire find yakuza shot in knee

OSAKA -- A gangster was injured after being shot in the right knee here early Saturday morning, police said.

Investigators are questioning the gangster, a 38-year-old member of the Yamaken-gumi affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi crime syndicate, over the details of the incident, while searching for the assailant.

At around 5:40 a.m. on Saturday, prefectural police received an emergency call from a passer-by reporting that she heard a shot near a parking lot in the Hanazono district of Nishinari-ku.

Officers rushed to the scene and found the gangster had been shot in his right knee. His injuries are expected to take about two weeks to heal.

Mainichi Japan January 5, 2008

Hollander - January 16, 2008 12:39 PM (GMT)
Man linked to yakuza arrested for stabbing anti-gang activist

KAGOSHIMA -- A man linked to the yakuza was arrested Wednesday for stabbing an anti-gang activist, police said.

Tokushige Tokumi, 38, who is linked to an affiliate of the Yamaguchi-gumi crime syndicate, stands accused of inflicting bodily injury. He admitted to the allegations during questioning.

"Under instructions from the organization, I stabbed him in order to obstruct the anti-gang campaign," Tokumi was quoted as telling investigators.

Tokumi stabbed the 65-year-old leader of a local anti-gang group in the buttocks on a street in Kagoshima on Oct. 19, last year before fleeing, prefectural police investigators said. The victim suffered injuries that took two weeks to heal.

Local residents formed the anti-gang group in a bid to expel the Yamaguchi-gumi affiliate from a building it had purchased in the city in February last year.


Hollander - January 17, 2008 01:47 PM (GMT)
Thursday, Jan. 17, 2008


Robin Hood yakuza's legacy sours in Shizuoka


SHIZUOKA (Kyodo) Yamamoto Chogoro (1820-1893), popularly known as Shimizu Jirocho, is commonly regarded as a Robin Hood figure who helped the weak by crushing the strong as a yakuza chieftain in the twilight years of the Edo Period (1603-1867).

His successors, however, tarnished that image and now locals are distancing themselves from the group.

Jirocho lived in what is now the city of Shizuoka, where he was known as the biggest boss in the Tokaido, or Eastern Sea Circuit. He toured the region as a gambler but devoted his energies to the creation of Shimizu port and English education in the closing days of his life.

His adherents followed his wishes in trying not to bother the local community. But gamblers and thugs increased after World War II, sparking conflicts that dragged in ordinary residents.

Police designated the group that succeeded the yakuza "family" originally led by Jirocho as part of the underworld. Kingo Tanabe, fifth-generation Shimizu family leader, dissolved the group in 1961. Apologizing that the group had attained mob syndicate status, he declared, "I am very sorry to Jirocho."

He wrote in a book, "At the very least, I don't want to hand the (Shimizu 'family') crest over to a gangster organization that frightens decent people."

Locals thus wondered why he later transferred the emblem to Yasuo Takagi, head of the Mio-gumi gang who was arrested in 2003 on suspicion of engaging in illegal loan-sharking. Takagi's group succeeded the Shimizu family last Feb. 28.

Takagi, 59, headed the Goryo-kai, the Mio-gumi's predecessor, at the time of his arrest. Police suspected he was involved in laundering 2.6 billion and searched the offices of the Kobe-based Yamaguchi-gumi, the nation's largest underworld syndicate.

He was said to have expanded his loan-shark operations in the Kanto region and, backed by his abundant financial resources, became an immediate Yamaguchi-gumi recruit.

A tourist association in Shizuoka has removed souvenirs bearing the name "Shimizu Family" from the home where Jirocho was born and other sites so that people will not think they had anything to do with today's underworld.

Residents say the city came to life after a television drama on Jirocho was broadcast in 2006. But the transfer of the "family" crest, they added, threw cold water on the city.

Tanabe, the former holder of the Shimizu emblem, has declined to reveal his true motive for passing it on to Takagi's syndicate, but tens of millions of yen were reported to have changed hands, according to sources.

They said he had practically no assets when he dissolved his group, adding that his chronic illness had become worse in recent years and he was hard up for money.

A Shizuoka Prefectural Police investigator said the Mio-gumi needed what he described as Jirocho's "gold-lettered signboard."

"An upscale label for the name of a yakuza group," he said, "is a lifeline for a gangster organization. The Mio-gumi probably zeroed in on the widely known Shimizu 'family' to recover from the loss it suffered in the loan-shark incident."

A store owner in the shopping mall on the same road as the house in which Jirocho was born said: "Jirocho was not involved in the mob. We will only tell about his great deeds."

Hollander - January 21, 2008 12:12 PM (GMT)
Ex-yakuza, 4 others arrested over murder of gangster

Police examine the scene where the yakuza's body was buried in Isumi, Chiba Prefecture. (Mainichi)

Five people including a former yakuza have been arrested over the murder of a gangster in 2005, police said.

Eiji Ogawa, 45, a construction worker who was a member of an affiliate of the Yamaguchi-gumi crime syndicate, is among five people arrested for burying the body of the former gangster who went missing in autumn 2005 at the age of 41.

Local police are grilling them over allegations that they robbed the victim of millions of yen and murdered him. Ogawa was in a dispute with the victim over money, according to investigators.

The five transported the victim's body in a car to Isumi, Chiba Prefecture, in October 2005, and buried it on the premises of a vacant villa, local police said. Investigators have found the decomposed body of the victim at the scene.

iMainichi Japanj January 21, 2008

Hollander - January 24, 2008 11:11 AM (GMT)
Sharp warned over link to yakuza sub-contractor

SAKAI, Osaka -- Electronics giant Sharp Corp. was warned that it was using a yakuza-linked construction company in the construction of a new LCD panel factory it is building here, it was learned.

Terrified Osaka Prefectural Government officials warned Sharp that Daiwa Juki, the Osaka-based construction machinery leasing company working as a sub-contractor on the factory project, had close links to organized crime.

General contractor Shimizu Corp., which palmed out the job to Daiwa, is poised to stop offering the company further work.

In April 2006, Osaka created prefectural guidelines that aimed to prevent organized crime from taking part in public projects. But in August 2006, the prefectural government received reports that the president of Daiwa had played golf on several occasions with the head of the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan's largest organized crime syndicate.

Osaka responded by issuing a directive to 23 general contractors not to sub-contract work for public projects to Daiwa.

Prefectural government officials said they received a report in December that Daiwa was working on Sharp's Sakai plant construction project. Even though the job is not a public project, the prefecture plans to give it 15 billion yen in subsidies, so it decided to inform Sharp about the company's mob ties.

iMainichi Japanj January 24, 2008

Hollander - March 7, 2008 10:54 AM (GMT)
Gang boss acquitted of making false entry over transfer of building title
The Tokyo District Court on Friday acquitted a gang boss of falsely registering the transfer of a building that was not in his possession.

Tadamasa Goto, 65, head of the Goto-gumi gang affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi crime syndicate, was found not guilty of making a false entry in a notarized deed.

"It cannot be recognized that he had criminal intent to make a false registration," Presiding Judge Shinichiro Fukuzaki said in handing down the ruling.

Prosecutors had demanded Goto be jailed for four years.




Hollander - March 11, 2008 10:11 AM (GMT)
Woman takes on yakuza in the courts over extortion claims, wins 10 million yen
KYOTO -- A woman reached a court-mediated settlement with a local gang boss last month after one of his underlings extorted 11.6 million yen from her over a traffic accident, it has emerged.

The 32-year-old woman from Kyoto Prefecture won 10 million yen in the settlement at the Osaka High Court on Feb. 18. She had demanded 16.2 million yen in damages.

"Though the money (paid back) is lower than the amount ordered in a lower court ruling, it is significant that the plaintiff actually got back 86 percent of the extorted money," a lawyer for the woman said.

The woman was involved in a traffic accident in 2001, and was told by a 48-year-old male acquaintance that he could help negotiate her compensation, according to the ruling handed down at the Kyoto District Court in April last year.

However, her acquaintance turned out to be connected to a criminal gang affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi yakuza syndicate, and the gang extorted 11.6 million yen from her.

The 48-year-old acquaintance was later convicted of extortion and was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison. However, although a court ordered him and the head of his gang to pay her 12.8 million yen in compensation, they refused, stumping up a paltry 100,000 yen.

The woman then filed a damages suit against the head of another criminal gang higher up in the organization. The Kyoto District Court sided with the plaintiff, deeming the defendant was liable as the gang's employer, and ordered him pay 12.65 million yen to her in compensation, of which they paid 10 million yen.

Hollander - March 25, 2008 07:04 PM (GMT)
EDITORIAL: Yakuza and real estate
03/11/2008



Soon after land prices in central Tokyo started picking up several years ago, some developers began resorting to strong-arm tactics to take possession of booming properties. Yakuza groups and their cronies are again scouting the capital's real estate market for lucrative opportunities to make fast money through shady business deals.

A land-sharking scam reminiscent of the era of stock and land price bubbles of the late 1980s recently came to light.

The case involved a commercial building in Tokyo's prime business district. Last week, the Metropolitan Police Department arrested the president of Koyo Jitsugyo, a real estate company, and 11 others.

The Koyo team apparently conducted negotiations with the building's tenants over the terms of their eviction. This was in clear violation of a law that bans parties from such actions unless they are lawyers.

Koyo Jitsugyo is believed to have ties with a gang affiliated with Yamaguchi-gumi, the nation's largest criminal syndicate. What is surprising is that Koyo was asked to force the tenants to leave the building by Suruga Corp., a real estate and construction company listed on the Second Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Suruga allegedly paid some 15 billion yen to Koyo for the dirty job of negotiating the eviction of the tenants of five buildings in central Tokyo. After Koyo's expenses were deducted, it apparently earned several billions of yen from the operations, according to the MPD.

Police suspect part of the ill-gotten profits went into the crime organization. In other words, part of the money Suruga spent for the so-called jiage land-sharking operations may have ended up in yakuza coffers.

We wonder how a listed company could seek the help of a firm with gang ties at a time when the nation is fighting to erode the malignant influence of the yakuza. What Suruga did was unpardonable.

It is so hard to eradicate gangs largely because there are always people and businesses that pay them to do such dirty work.

It is difficult for Suruga to rebut the charge that it adopted a see-no-evil approach to Koyo's yakuza ties in order to make sure that the eviction operations would be carried out quickly, securing big profits for the company.

Suruga claims it first became aware of Koyo's ties with the crime organization in June last year. But police suspect the company wised up to the fact much earlier.

It has long been known that gangs are behind some of the land sharks engaged in the jiage business.

What is even more serious about this case is that Suruga continued its dealings with Koyo for about half a year even after it became aware of Koyo's ties with the underworld. Why is it that Suruga didn't sever its partnership with Koyo immediately?

Koyo didn't hesitate to use hard-ball tactics to force the tenants out of the buildings. It intimidated and harassed the tenants. One tenant has testified that Koyo officials were accompanied by a man who looked like a character in a yakuza movie.

It is hard to believe that Suruga was unaware of what kind of tactics Koyo employed in carrying out the jiage operations.

In the negotiations over eviction, Koyo deceived the tenants, for example, by fabricating a document saying it had obtained taken over ownership of the buildings from Suruga.

What is outrageous is that Suruga's president apparently knew about that.

The Suruga president has resigned. But that should not lead police to close the files on the case. Police should continue investigating to uncover the entire sordid picture, including the flow of money, to determine the extent of Suruga's involvement in this affair.

Eradicating yakuza gangs requires more than strong police crackdowns on these organizations. Companies and ordinary people must refuse to have anything to do with them.

The latest jiage case is a fresh reminder of that lesson.

--The Asahi Shimbun, March 9 (IHT/Asahi: March 11,2008)



Hollander - April 8, 2008 09:20 AM (GMT)
Group tied to gangster suspected of defrauding 30 people out of 200 million yen
A group of people led by a yakuza who is under arrested for fraud are suspected of swindling more than 30 people across the country out of about 200 million yen by pretending to be a relative pinched for money, investigators said.

A joint investigation team from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and Hokkaido Prefectural Police have arrested Junichi Iwasaki, 29, a member of a gang affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi crime syndicate, for fraud.

In the specific case for which he was arrested, Iwasaki, a resident of Toyohira-ku, Sapporo, swindled a 68-year-old man from the Chiba Prefecture city of Urayasu out of a combined 10 million yen on eight occasions in 2006 by pretending to be the victim's son.

Iwasaki repeatedly called the victim at his workplace in Chuo-ku, Tokyo, over a three-day period in January 2006 by posing as his son, according to investigators.

He lied to the man that he needed to repay a large amount of debts on behalf of a friend because he became the guarantor of the friend. He then asked the victim to send him money saying he would otherwise have no choice but to hang himself.

The victim complied and remitted a combined amount of about 10 million yen into an account designated by Iwasaki on eight occasions, according to investigators.

The joint investigation team alleges that the fraudulent group led by Iwasaki had defrauded over 30 people throughout the country out of some 200 million yen by August last year, using similar tactics, and that Iwasaki took 40 percent of the amount.

(Mainichi Japan) April 8, 2008

Hollander - April 9, 2008 09:21 AM (GMT)
Sokaiya racketeer busted for blackmailing construction project
A sokaiya, or professional blackmailer, was arrested Wednesday for trying to threaten the operators of an apartment construction project, police said.

Arrested for attempted blackmail was Shigeji Aiba, 61, a sokaiya from Yashio, Saitama Prefecture.

Aiba admits to the allegations.

Police said Aiba told a consulting company worker acting on behalf of a demolition company that he was annoyed by the noise emanating from a construction project. Aiba handed the man a card in the name of a Yamaguchi-gumi yakuza gang boss and said: "There's too much noise for me to sleep. I'll get the sound trucks out and slow down the construction." He then demanded a cash payment for his silence, police said.

Police got onto the case after the consulting company asked for help in February. Police suspect Aiba has been involved in other blackmailing cases and are investigating him.

In June last year, Aiba was arrested for breaking the Company Law by demanding Tobu Railway Co. provide him with payments under coercion. Aiba was convicted and fined 500,000 yen.



(Mainichi Japan) April 9, 2008

Hollander - April 19, 2008 10:14 AM (GMT)
Briefly: Swiss to return loan shark's gains
04/19/2008

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN


Half of profits stashed in Switzerland by a yakuza gang involved in loan sharking will be handed over to the Japanese government to help compensate victims of the group's crime, sources said.

The Goryo-kai gang, which has since disbanded, kept about 5.8 billion yen (58 million Swiss francs) in a Swiss bank account. Swiss authorities have seized the funds and pledged to return about half the amount.

The gang was affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi, the nation's largest crime syndicate.

It will be the first time for crime-related profits hidden overseas to be returned to victims in Japan under a 2006 law.(IHT/Asahi: April 19,2008)


Hollander - April 22, 2008 09:06 AM (GMT)
Ex-yakuza denies attempting to gun down cop hit by ricochet
YOKOHAMA -- A former yakuza on trial for attempted murder after firing a gunshot that wounded an assistant police inspector pleaded not guilty to the charge as his trial opened in the Yokohama District Court on Tuesday.

On trial is 38-year-old Masumi Fukuhara, a former member of a gang affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi crime syndicate.

"It is not true that I tried to kill the officer. There was no murderous intent even in the back of my mind," he told the court, denying the charge of attempted murder.

Fukuhara was accused of pointing a handgun at an assistant police inspector who was conducting a house search on suspicion of a violation of the Swords and Firearms Control Law on Sept. 1, 2007, and firing a shot.

The bullet hit a pole on the balcony of the home in Yokohama, and ricocheted, striking the assistant police inspector in the left elbow and leaving him with injuries that required about three weeks' treatment.

Fukuhara fled with the weapon. The following day he gave himself up to an Osaka Prefectural Police investigator he was familiar with, and was arrested.


(Mainichi Japan) April 22, 2008

Hollander - April 25, 2008 12:04 PM (GMT)
Ex-yakuza denies intending to murder victims in Aichi standoff
NAGOYA -- A former yakuza accused of shooting four people in a deadly standoff in Nagakute, Aichi Prefecture, told the Nagoya District Court on Friday that he never intended to kill anyone.

On trial over the shootings is 51-year-old Hisato Obayashi. During a questioning session at the court, Obayashi matched statements he made at the opening of the trial, stressing that he didn't remember firing at a sergeant from Aichi Police Station.

The 51-year-old added that he had not aimed his gun at inspector Kazuho Hayashi, a 23-year-old Aichi Prefectural Police Special Assault Team member who was killed in the standoff.

"I didn't shoot the gun aiming for him," he said. "If I get a heavy sentence because it's thought that I haven't reflected on my actions, there's nothing I can do about it, but I want to say that because it's the truth."

From about 1989, Obayashi began taking tranquilizers and sleep medication, with the amount of drugs growing after he divorced in November 2005, the court heard. He mentioned a case in 2000, before the standoff, when he lost his memory as he was riding a motorcycle, and told the court, "I wasn't aware of it until now, but I've come to think that the only reason could be side effects from the medicine."

Obayashi said his mental capacity was diminished at the time a shot was fired toward the police sergeant because of the sleeping medicine and other factors, siding with claims made by his lawyers.

The standoff occurred in May 2007, when Obayashi holed himself up in his home. Hayashi died from gunshot wounds and three other people were injured.


(Mainichi Japan) April 25, 2008

Hollander - April 29, 2008 10:22 AM (GMT)

Former prosecutor charged with fraud
04/28/2008

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN


OSAKA--Prosecutors here Sunday indicted Morikazu Tanaka, a former prosecutor-turned-lawyer who wrote a bestseller about his turbulent professional life, on charges of defrauding a moneylender who had sought legal advice.

The Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office determined that Tanaka, 64, quickly diverted about 40 million yen ($382,150) of the 90 million he had received from the moneylender to an air surveying company Tanaka owned at the time, sources said.

Tanaka, a former prosecutor with the special investigation departments of both the Tokyo and Osaka prosecutors offices, told investigators soon after his arrest that he gave part of the money to an acquaintance as a commission for introducing him to the moneylender.

Tanaka's indictment came just before his detention period was to expire Sunday.

Prosecutors suspended indictment of a 73-year-old company executive and former lawyer acquainted with Tanaka, as well as Tanaka's 43-year-old former female secretary. They had all been arrested on suspicion of conspiring to defraud the moneylender.

According to the indictment, the moneylender, now 45, approached Tanaka on Oct. 7, 2002, seeking advice in connection with an investigation into an employee accused of charging illegally high interest rates through his own lending operations.

The moneylender was advised to let Tanaka take care of all of his money until the investigation ended, and promised to return the money at a later date, according to the indictment.

He took 90 million yen from the moneylender.

After investigating Tanaka's bank accounts and the books at the aerial surveying company he ran, prosecutors found that about 40 million yen had been transmitted to the company on the same day that he had received the cash from the moneylender, the sources said.

Part of the 40 million yen was deposited into the account of a U.S. company with which the surveying company had a contract, while the remainder was used to pay the salaries of employees at the surveying company.

Tanaka is said to have been heavily in debt after the value of his stocks and real estate property plummeted when the asset-inflated economic bubble burst in the early 1990s.

Prosecutors suspect Tanaka used the remaining 50 million yen from the moneylender to repay debts and cover living expenses.

Tanaka's recent autobiography was a hit among the public. It discloses his ties with yakuza and politicians after he quit as an investigative prosecutor to become a lawyer.(IHT/Asahi: April 28,2008)

Hollander - May 1, 2008 02:13 PM (GMT)
Police raid underground casino in Nagoya

NAGOYA -- Eleven employees and 33 customers of an underground casino were arrested Thursday for operating baccarat tables inside the establishment, police said.

Eiichi Ito, 31, manager of a casino in Nagoya's Naka-ku, and 10 employees of the bar stand accused of running a gambling place for the purpose of making a profit. A 45-year-old company executive from Nagoya and 32 other customers at the bar are accused of gambling.

Investigators suspect that the massive income from the bar may have been funneled to criminal gangs.

The bar was operating without a license and had been open around-the-clock every day since around March. Located on the fourth floor, the bar had double-entry doors and investigators suspect that only regular customers were admitted to the bar.

The Aichi Prefectural Police raided the bar during the predawn hours on Thursday and confiscated 10 million yen in cash and game tools including baccarat tables.

Click here for the original Japanese story

(Mainichi Japan) May 1, 2008

Hollander - May 19, 2008 12:04 PM (GMT)

Gang boss among 7 busted for selling stimulants from fake food stall
OSAKA -- A gang boss and six other people have been arrested for selling stimulants under the guise of a food stall set up along a road here, police said.

Makoto Nakanishi, 47, a senior member of a gang affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi crime syndicate, and six others stand accused of violating the Stimulants Control Law. Investigators have confiscated about 15 grams of the illegal drug from the fake stall.

They set up a fake stall along a municipal road in Nishinari-ku, Osaka, and hung up a banner saying, "Delicious Baked Sweet Potatoes," according to local police. They are accused of selling an average of 60 bags each containing 0.05 grams of stimulants -- worth about 300,000 yen -- a day.

Osaka police had been investigating the stall since February after being alerted by a local resident, who became suspicious because the stall never sold potatoes.

(Mainichi Japan) May 19, 2008

Hollander - May 24, 2008 04:24 PM (GMT)
Yakuza boss jailed for ordering butt-stabbing of anti-gang protestor
KAGOSHIMA -- A yakuza member who ordered an underling to stab an anti-gang protestor in the buttocks has been jailed by a court here for 3 1/2 years.

Kagoshima resident Katsuyuki Kawakami, 39, the leader of a gang affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi -- Japan's biggest yakuza syndicate -- was found guilty by the Kagoshima District Court of inflicting bodily injury after he ordered an underling to stab protestor Hirotaka Senoo.

"As a high-ranking gang member, you bear a lot of responsibility for issuing the order to the person underneath you," Presiding Judge Masamichi Hirashima said as he handed down the ruling.

Kawakami, following an order from gang boss Mitsuo Matsushita, instructed an underling member to stab 65-year-old Senoo as he took part in an anti-yakuza rally in Kagoshima on the morning of Oct. 19 last year, according to court records.

Unemployed Ryuji Kokusho, 33, was given an 18-month suspended sentence after he was found guilty of concealing evidence by throwing the knife used in the attack into the ocean.

Matsushita, meanwhile, is still being tried for inflicting bodily injury in connection with the case.

(Mainichi Japan) May 24, 2008

Hollander - June 4, 2008 02:16 PM (GMT)
Ex-company executive, gangster nabbed over identity fraud
Tuesday 03rd June, 04:10 PM JST

KOBE A former company executive and a high-ranking gangster were arrested in Kobe on Tuesday on suspicion of conspiring to disguise the gangster as an ordinary company employee to enable him to rent a condominium, police said Tuesday. Police arrested Ichiro Miki, 46, an executive member of a gang group affiliated with Japans largest crime syndicate Yamaguchi-gumi, and Yasuhiro Morikawa, 67, former executive of Kamigumi Co, a port transportation and freight forwarding company.

About 60 officers of Hyogo prefectural police raided the head office of Kamigumi in Kobe and other places in connection with case on Tuesday. According to the investigation, Miki conspired with Morikawa to rent the condo where Morikawa had lived for the past 20 years, with Morikawa passing him off as a Kamagumi employee.

Hollander - July 27, 2008 11:18 AM (GMT)
Procedures start to distribute money to loan-shark victims
Friday 25th July, 10:21 AM JST

TOKYO Prosecutors began procedures Friday to distribute funds seized by Swiss authorities to people who have fallen victim to an illegal high-interest lending scheme run by a group affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi crime syndicate. The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office began accepting applications from victims after the provincial authorities of Zurich, Switzerland, in May delivered about 2.9 billion yen they seized as unlawful profits by the group, called Goryokai, at a Credit Suisse bank account.

Japan and Switzerland had earlier reached an agreement to divide between them around 58 million Swiss francs (6 billion yen) seized by the Swiss authorities from the bank account, with Japans portion to be returned to the loan-shark victims. The prosecutors will notify about 34,000 people with contact addresses who are believed to be the victims of the lender about procedures for claiming the money.


Hollander - November 1, 2008 11:41 AM (GMT)

Ex-gangster admits murdering executive
The Yomiuri Shimbun

Police plan to soon serve a fresh arrest warrant on a former gangster on suspicion he murdered a transport company executive and dumped his body in 2006, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

Minoru Nozaki, who is currently being held on suspicion of robbery, has reportedly submitted a written confession to the Metropolitan Police Department admitting to the murder of Masaharu Tochino. The MPD suspects Nozaki, 50, a former high-ranking member of a group associated with the Yamaguchi-gumi crime syndicate, and two of his associates committed the murder.

Tochino went missing after visiting a Tokyo legal office for work reasons on Sept. 7, 2006. His body was found near a mountain path in a Japanese cypress forest in Fuji, Shizuoka Prefecture, on Oct. 1 that year.

The MPD had been investigating the matter as a case of abandonment of a body.

(Nov. 1, 2008)

Hollander - November 11, 2008 03:56 PM (GMT)


Police search yakuza office
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

2008/11/11

KOBE--Tokyo police on Monday searched the office of a gang affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi syndicate for evidence of the gang's involvement in a bank transfer scam.

Monday's investigation comes in the wake of October arrests of gang member Koji Okawa, 24, and an unemployed 21-year-old man, both of Tokyo, on suspicion of defrauding a 63-year-old woman in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, of 2.74 million yen.

According to police sources, Okawa and his accomplice called the woman on Aug. 20, pretending to be her son, and tricked her into transferring funds to their account.

Police believe there were at least three other people in their group and that they were involved in at least two other incidents that netted a total of about 6 million yen.(IHT/Asahi: November 11,2008)

Hollander - April 8, 2009 03:51 PM (GMT)
Japanese underworld boss quits crime to turn Buddhist
Tadamasa Goto will enter priesthood after falling foul of yakuza leaders for allegedly passing information to the FBI
Justin McCurry in Tokyo
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 7 April 2009 14.07 BST Article history
Tadamasa Goto, one of Japan's most notorious underworld bosses, is to enter the Buddhist priesthood less than a year after his volatile behaviour caused a rift in the country's biggest crime syndicate.

As leader of a yakuza or Japanese mafia gang, Goto amassed a fortune from prostitution, protection rackets and white-collar crime, while cultivating a reputation for extreme violence.

Tomorrow, his life will take a decidedly austere turn when he begins training at a temple in Kanagawa prefecture south of Tokyo, the Sankei Shimbun newspaper said today, citing police sources.

The 66-year-old, whose eponymous gang belonged to the powerful Yamaguchi-gumi crime syndicate, was expelled from the yakuza fraternity last October after a furious row with his bosses over his conduct.

Known as Japan's answer to John Gotti, the infamous mafia don, Goto reportedly upset his seniors amid media reports that he had invited several celebrities to join his lavish birthday celebrations last September.

Several months earlier he had attracted more unwanted publicity following revelations that he had offered information to the FBI in return for permission to enter the US for a life-saving liver transplant in 2001.

At an emergency meeting last October the Yamaguchi-gumi's bosses minus their leader, Shinobu Tsukasa, who is serving a six-year prison term for illegal arms possession expelled Goto, splitting his gang into rival factions.

According to the Sankei, Goto will formally join the priesthood on 8 April considered to be Buddha's birthday in Japan in a private ceremony.

The former gangster was quoted as describing the occasion as "solemn and meaningful, in which Buddha will make me his disciple and enable me to start a new life".

In his deal with the FBI, Goto reportedly gave up vital information about yakuza front companies, as well as the names of senior crime figures and the mob's links to North Korea.

Underworld experts have pointed out, however, that the bureau could have gleaned the same information from yakuza fanzines.

Goto's transplant was performed at UCLA medical centre in Los Angeles In the spring of 2001 by the respected surgeon Dr Ronald W Busuttil, using the liver of a 16-year-old boy who had died in a traffic accident.

The grateful don, who was suffering from liver disease, later donated $100,000 (68,000) to the hospital, his generosity commemorated in a plaque that reads: "In grateful recognition of the Goto Research Fund established through the generosity of Mr Tadamasa Goto."

Jake Adelstein, a former crime reporter for the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, received death threats before he went public with the transplant story last spring, and has been living under police protection ever since.

When it was assigned to cultivate the Tokyo area in the late 1980s, the Goto-gumi stuck to what it knew best: drugs, human trafficking and extortion, before new anti-gang laws forced it to move in to more lucrative areas such as real estate and the stockmarket.

At the height of their powers, Goto's henchmen were capable of unspeakable acts of violence, including bulldozing businesses that refused to pay protection money and administering beatings to victims in front of their families, reports said.

A 1999 leaked police file noted that "in order to achieve his goals, [Goto] uses any and all means necessary or possible. He also uses a carrot-and-stick approach to keep his soldiers in line. His group is capable of extremely violent and aggressive acts".

Hollander - April 10, 2009 10:00 AM (GMT)
Gangster boss who turned to God

One of Japan's most feared yakuza has renounced violence and found Buddhism. A genuine conversion? Or a desperate attempt to avoid assassination at the hands of his enemies? David McNeill reports


Friday, 10 April 2009

AP

Members of Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan's largest Yakuza organisation


Picture the scene: a fleet of black limousines crunches up the driveway of a Buddhist temple nestled in lush pine-carpeted mountains an hour west of Tokyo. The precious cargo of limousine one a violent but ageing mob boss steps out into the sun, surrounded by four sumo-sized bodyguards and is welcomed by a priest. As cherry blossom petals blow gently in the wind, the gangster enters the shrine and proceeds to be solemnly ordained into the Buddhist priesthood.

It sounds like the opening of a terrible yakuza movie, but this is what took place in this picture-perfect setting when Tadamasa Goto, one of Japan's most feared mob bosses, stepped out of the shadows this week and into the path of God.

Unsurprisingly, he was watched at a safe distance by a 40-strong media scrum. It was as if the infamous mafia don John Gotti, a man with whom Goto is sometimes compared, had ditched his dapper suits for priests' robes at the local Catholic church.

Today, Goto reportedly spends his time praying and contemplating on long meditative trips into these mountains. Eventually, he could find himself comforting the sick and the bereaved, an odd occupation for a man who dealt in murder and mayhem for Japan's largest yakuza syndicate, the Yamaguchi-gumi.

"I believe he has really turned away from his past life and wants to change," says Jishu Tsukagoshi, one of the young priests at this temple, the Joganji. "But only time will really tell if that is true."

Probably nobody except Goto himself knows why he decided to swop a pistol for an incense burner, though there is no shortage of theories. Most observers scoff, however, at the idea that the 66-year-old, known as one of the country's most dangerous gangsters, had a genuine change of heart. The most popular theory is that he is on the run, hoping to escape assassination by former yakuza colleagues infuriated that he brought them one of the few things they genuinely fear: publicity.

Goto was splashed across the world's newspapers last year after details emerged of a deal he had struck with the US authorities. In exchange for a queue-jumping transplant at the UCLA Medical Centre in Los Angeles, Goto reportedly agreed to become an FBI informer.

For the bureau, he was a rare prize: a high-ranking boss apparently willing to break the yakuza's silence about its operations in America, and its drug and weapons connections with North Korea.

But Goto walked away from the deal with a new liver having reportedly given the FBI nothing that they could not read in a 400-yen (2.70) Tokyo magazine. "He came to the States and got a liver and was laughing back to where he came from," the former FBI chief Jim Stern told the LA Times. "It defies logic."

That sleight of hand may have saved Goto from being saddled with the deadly tag of snitch, but not from mob concerns that he couldn't keep his name out of the press.

Those fears were compounded last year when he invited five well-known popular enka singers to his birthday party outside Tokyo on 17 September, igniting a media scandal when it was aired in a popular weekly magazine. The leadership of the 40,000-strong Yamaguchi-gumi reacted furiously, officially banishing him from the group during a meeting at its headquarters in Kobe and declaring him persona non grata.

According to mob watchers, Goto took with him a faction of 1,200 men, a reputation for violence and a drastically reduced life expectancy.

"There are a lot of people that want to kill him these days," says Jake Adelstein, the Japan-based journalist who broke the story of Goto's liver transplant.

"There's even kind of a bidding war between groups, and not just the Yamaguchi-gumi, because the bounty on his head is quite substantial."

Observers believe that Goto took trips abroad and played a lot of golf before hew decided that his new life was, in the words of the weekly magazine Friday, "empty and lacking stimulation."

The prospect of a gang war between his breakaway group and the Yamaguchi-gumi also caused him sleepless nights.

His ordination gives him the chance to appear remorseful, and hopefully stave off the chances of being whacked.

For the 400-year-old temple, however, the attractions of the arrangement are less clear. Its head priest, who has a two-decade relationship with the don, has taken a pounding in the media, which finds Goto's sudden conversion to Tendai Buddhism a little hard to swallow.

How is a man who has wallowed in the demi-monde for most of his life supposed to achieve Buddha-hood this late in the piece?

Perhaps cash has helped smooth the way. Goto donated $100,000 (68,000) to the LA hospital that performed his transplant, earning himself a commemorative plaque that reads: "In grateful recognition of the Goto Research Fund established through the generosity of Mr. Tadamasa Goto."

The UCLA Medical Centre came under intense fire when it was revealed that Goto and three other yakuza had jumped over several hundred waiting patients to get their new livers. Those patients all died.

Joganji's head priest is keeping mum about rumours of financial compensation. But he admitted in a magazine interview this week that the don's epiphany was slow in coming. "At first, he appeared to have little interest in Buddhism but as he got older, it deepened."

Goto's life of crime presumably left little time for the pursuit of enlightenment. Apart from drugs, fraud and prostitution, he has been linked most infamously to a vicious knife attack on Juzo Itami, a top director who angered the mob by portraying them as lowlife thugs in a hugely popular movie. Itami subsequently committed suicide in a death that has long been rumoured to have been a mob-hit in disguise.

In 2006, Goto and his oldest son Masato were arrested for real-estate fraud following the killing of a man who was trying to clear out Goto-gumi gangsters. He was acquitted but faces other charges.

Those court battles, his declining health and the prospect of war with probably the world's largest organised crime outfit may all have played a part in his conversion, believes the temple priest Koji Tsukagoshi. Whatever the reason, he says Goto is a shadow of his former self. "He looks just like any man of that age, not scary at all, until you see the men he keeps around him."

Goto offered few clues at his ordination, reportedly brushing off questions about his decision with a curt statement: "Buddha will make me his disciple and enable me to start a new life." Adelstein, who went into hiding in fear for his life after his story was published, recommends that his tormentor fill out an organ donor card and give his liver to a "more deserving" person.

"It would be a good and final chance for him to achieve some absolution. Because I think that the odds are he's going to be experiencing reincarnation first hand, a lot sooner than he expects."

In the gang: The Yakuza

*The Yakuza, a loose alliance of Japanese criminal gangs, trace their origins back to a thoroughly romantic source: the machi-yokko, mercenaries who protected townsfolk from bandits in the 17th century. Others connect them to the kabuki-mono, masterless samurai who terrorised villages across the country.

*The violent gangs to whom the modern term refers emerged after the Second World War, when they asserted control of the black market. They conduct themselves with a veneer of honour and politesse, but the racket is a familiar one: smuggling, selling drugs, extortion, illegal gambling and prostitution rings.

*The Yakuza's organisation follows a highly sentimentalised father-son structure, where relationships are cemented by the mutual drinking of sake in a ritual known as Sakazuki.

*In the gangs' mythology, the archetypal Yakuza is an abandoned son taken in by a father figure; gang members cut all family ties to affirm their allegiance to their superiors.

*Dedicated Yakuza confirm their loyalties with ornate tattoos (left); if they err, they expect to lose their pinkies. With about $13bn (9bn) flowing through their coffers each year, it is little wonder that 40 to 80,000 people are prepared to take the risk.

Hollander - September 9, 2009 12:31 PM (GMT)

Yakuza group forcing members to take 'gangster exam'
OTSU -- Japan's largest and most notorious organized crime group, the Yamaguchi-gumi, is forcing members to take a "gangster exam" in order to reduce costly damages suits, police have discovered.

An affiliate based in Shiga Prefecture is distributing written tests on the revised Anti-Organized Crime Law, which allows higher-ranking gang members to be sued for the actions of their subordinates, as a preventative measure against future lawsuits. Police believe the test has been introduced by Yamaguchi-gumi groups across the country.

Police first discovered the test during an investigation of a member of the affiliate. A 12-question exam paper, complete with model answers, was among the items confiscated.

Questions included "What kind of activities are banned?" with "dumping industrial waste; bootlegging fuel; theft of construction vehicles and other expensive items; phone fraud scams" etc. listed as the correct answers.

The model answer to the final question, "What are you required to do in all your activities?" was: "report and consult with my bosses."

Click here for the original Japanese story

(Mainichi Japan) September 5, 2009

Hollander - December 31, 2009 12:32 PM (GMT)

Gangsters dole out cash to kids
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN


2009/12/31
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KOBE--The nation's largest crime syndicate doled out envelopes containing up to 30,000 yen each to some of the hundreds of children attending a public relations event to win over local residents Monday.

Members of the Yamaguchi-gumi distributed envelopes with a minimum of 10,000 yen and up to three times that amount to children who flocked to the group's year-end mochi rice-cake pounding festival, a Hyogo prefectural police official said.

The envelopes were given in the name of gang boss Kenichi Shinoda, known in the yakuza world as Shinobu Tsukasa, who is serving prison time on weapons charges, and his deputy, Kiyoshi Takayama.(IHT/Asahi: December 31,2009)





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