Where did the momentum at the time of its establishment go… What did “Kobe Yamaguchigumi” fail?
Inside report: Charging a hefty "registration fee," favoring the Yamaguchigumi, and patronizing the Yamaguchigumi's family members, the executives who ran out of patience left one after another, and finally, even Vice President Sadamasa Irie left the organization.
The public safety commissions of nine prefectures, including Hyogo and Osaka, extended the designation of Yamaguchigumi VI (leader Shinobu Tsukasa) and Kobe Yamaguchigumi (leader Kunio Inoue) as “designated gangs for specific conflicts” for another three months earlier this month. Under this measure, the Yamaguchigumi VI still cannot use the Yamaguchigumi headquarters or the main house in Nada Ward, Kobe City.
In fact, it is the continuation of this “specific feud designation” by the authorities that is the lifeline for the defeated Kobe Yamaguchigumi.
A former senior official of the Kobe Yamaguchigumi explains.
Although there was some trouble along the way, Ikeda-gumi and Kizuna-kai in Okayama, both of which split off from the Kobe Yamaguchigumi, and Kobe formed a loose alliance this past September. Sadamasa Irie, deputy head of the Kobe Yamaguchigumi (head of the Takumi clan), who had made the preparations for this, threw a tantrum at Kunio Inoue, head of the Inoue clan, who intervened at the last minute and decided to leave Kobe and go with the Takumi clan alone, but then he realized that giving up on the Kobe Yamaguchigumi would only please the Yamaguchigumi VI, and eventually decided to include the Kobe Yamaguchigumi into the alliance. In the end, we decided to include Kobe Yamaguchigumi in the alliance and made it a four-party alliance.
For Mr. Irie, if we gave up on Kobe, Kobe Yamaguchigumi would be isolated even more than before and defeat would be hastened. If that is the case, the designation of a specific feud will be lifted, and Yamaguchigumi VI will be able to use Yamaguchigumi’s headquarters and main house in Nada Ward again. Then it will be the same as before the split and we will be back to where we were. For what purpose did we decide to rise up? We did not want to decide on our own to die in vain, and that is why we included Kobe in our alliance. It seems we will continue to support them in some way in the future.”
The Kobe Yamaguchigumi is now a fallen sanskasa, so much so that even its former comrades pity it.’ At its inception in 2003, the clan counted 3,050 members. The number of direct advisors (direct clan leaders) was 13.’ In 2005, the number of direct advisors increased to 24, but now the number of direct advisors is down again to 13, and the number of kumiai members has decreased to 500. This is one-sixth the number at the start.
All of this is a convenience for the Inoue clan leader.
What did the Kobe Yamaguchigumi do wrong? An Osaka businessman with ties to the Kobe Yamaguchigumi says that it is because they installed a person who should not be at the top as their boss.
A businessman in Osaka with ties to Kobe Yamaguchigumi says, “At first, Kobe Yamaguchigumi was going to be a federation without a father-son sake cup. However, the day after it was established, the direct lineage leaders were gathered at the main residence of the Inoue clan leader in Suzurandai, Kita-ku, Kobe City, and a sake cup ceremony was held. It is true that some of the immediate bosses said, “Yakuza are uncomfortable without the sake cup,” but only six months after the sake cup ceremony, people began to say that the sake cup with Inoue was a failure. In short, the bad administration by the Inoue clan leader, who had been covering his face until then, started.
In October 2001, when he was an assistant to the head of Yamaguchigumi VI, at the same time as when the previous head of Yamaguchigumi, Sadamasa Irie, was relegated to the position of prefect, the line of Shinobu Tsukasa and Seiji Takayama, the head of Yamaguchigumi, asked if he would vacate the position of assistant head and become a prefect, or if he could be selected from the ranks of the Sanken-gumi leaders. He asked me to choose any one of the Yamaken-gumi leaders to be his direct follower, and he said that he would leave the selection to me. Even at that time, Sanken-gumi boasted approximately 2,000 members and was the largest and most numerous faction in Yamaguchigumi.
With such a request, Mr. Inoue realized that his career had ended at the position of assistant to the head of the Wakagami clan. He thought that after that, the Yamaguchi Gumi would be broken up and reduced to a minority faction, and that he would be stripped of his limbs as a henchman and forced to retire.
For Inoue, the launching of the Kobe Yamaguchigumi was a way out for himself, whose future would have been destroyed by the Yamaguchigumi VI. He wanted to reform Yamaguchigumi VI and to think about the future of the younger generation, etc., all of which were just ruses.
That is why he started “maladministration” soon after becoming the boss. The monthly membership fee of the Kobe Yamaguchigumi was reduced to about one-tenth of that of the Yamaguchigumi VI: 300,000 yen for the yakuza, 200,000 yen for the mid-ranking members, and 100,000 yen for the wakanchu. However, in the Sanken-gumi led by himself, he separately required the immediate bosses belonging to the Sanken-gumi headquarters to pay a monthly fee of 10,000 yen for each young man or apprentice they held under the name of “registration fee. In other words, if a gang leader had 10 members, he was required to pay 100,000 yen per month, and if he had 50 members, he was required to pay 500,000 yen per month in separate installments.
As a result, the Inoue clan leader was able to freely spend 10 to 20 million yen per month. This allowed Inoue to freely spend 10 to 20 million yen every month. For Inoue, Sanken-gumi was a concession. That is why he did not want to give up his position as the head of Sanken-gumi, even though he was the head of the Kobe Yamaguchi Gumi. Perhaps because he was collecting money separately from the Yamakengumi alone in this way, when there was a trouble between the Yamakengumi and other Kobe Yamaguchigumi affiliated groups, Mr. Inoue decided to side with the Yamakengumi and ruled in their favor. He was an ally and an eco-favorite. It became impossible to criticize the VI Yamaguchigumi, which was pro-Kodokai.
Moreover, Chief Inoue became more paranoid and stopped listening to any reasonable talk from his subordinates at this time.
Chairman Kizumasa Oda, who now heads the Kizuna-kai, was then acting head of the Kobe Yamaguchigumi and deputy head of the Sanken-gumi. Soon after its establishment, Oda went around the country encouraging the Kobe Yamaguchigumi organization. He gathered young men, formed a line, and even dared them to visit Yamaguchigumi VI-affiliated organizations. Although it could be said that they put a demonstration on the VI side, they showed the pride and vigor of the Kobe Yamaguchigumi.
As a result, it was Oda’s achievement that he succeeded in increasing the number of direct members from 13 to 24.
Oda was the rising star who led the Kobe Yamaguchigumi, but in April 2005, Oda gave up on the Inoue clan leader and formed a separate ninkyo organization, Yamaguchigumi (now known as Kizuna-kai). The Inoue clan leader had a narrow-mindedness that did not allow him to keep his “vassals at his elbow. The first to jump out was Oda. When Oda left the Kobe Yamaguchigumi, the Kobe Yamaguchigumi led by Inoue lost the cause of “Yamaguchigumi reform. The holder of that cause has since shifted to the Kizuna-kai.
Vice President Irie also ran out of love.
Like the Yamaguchigumi VI head Tsukasa Shinobu, Inoue’s wish was for a position that would allow him to indulge in luxury and money. He had no viewpoints or goals such as how to reform the union in order for young people to live happily in the future, so naturally, he could not hold up his vision for the future to the executives and members.
What he was fighting for was his own loss or gain. After Oda left the Sanken-gumi, fearing that its leader Inoue would take over the Sanken-gumi, Koji Nakata, who was entrusted with the fifth generation of the Sanken-gumi, left the Kobe Yamaguchigumi in July 2008, while still under detention, taking about half of the Sanken-gumi with him, and switched sides to the Yamaguchigumi VI. As a henchman, there is no greater betrayal than this, but this may have been simply the application of the orientation inherited from the Inoue clan leader, who saw the Yamaguchigumi as a mass of interests.
Ikeda Takashi Ikeda, head of the Ikeda-gumi (Okayama City), who was a prefect of the Kobe Yamaguchigumi, also left Kobe in July of 2008. Ikeda’s views are close to Chairman Oda’s, and the two have maintained close ties after leaving the organization.
Chairman Osamu Teraoka of Chiyotomokai, who was a young head of the Kobe Yamaguchigumi, also left the Kobe Yamaguchigumi in August 2010. Since its inception, Chairman Teraoka had been close to the Inoue clan leader and General Headquarters Director Toshio Masaki (retired in August 2008), and was estranged from the righteous factions Ikeda and Irie. However, such Chairman Teraoka advocated the retirement of the Inoue clan leader, negotiated with the outside world, and finally left the organization himself.
All of these executives of the Kobe Yamaguchi Gumi should be called “his trusted advisors,” but even Teraoka, Masaki, and Nakata, who were close to his ideas, turned their backs on Inoue in the end. It is obvious that Inoue is not a man of virtue, and that he is the type of person who people get tired of.
In addition, even Sadamasa Irie, the deputy head of the Kobe Yamaguchi Gumi, who had been highly valued as the head of the general headquarters of the Yamaguchigumi VI as a wise man, left the Kobe Yamaguchigumi this September, saying that he would leave the Kobe Yamaguchigumi and would go on with his own business from now on.
To give a brief history, five years ago, a gang member under Inoue shot and killed a bodyguard of the Kizuna-kai, Oda. As mentioned above, Kizumikai has been working with Ikeda-gumi, so if Ikeda-gumi forms an alliance with Kobe Yamaguchigumi, Kizumikai will indirectly participate in it.
On September 12, a senior member of the Kobe Yamaguchigumi held hands at the site of the bodyguard’s murder in Nagata Ward, Kobe, and offered an offering to the Kizuna-kai.
Immediately after the killing, Inoue violently reprimanded the executive, saying that he had never heard of such a thing and that he had taken the liberty to do what he did. When Irie, the deputy head of the gang, learned of this and defended the executive, saying, “This was an attempt to boost the three-party alliance,” he replied, “Young men risk their lives to go get their opponents’ balls. Do you know how the executives would feel if they laid hands on the graves of their enemies?
Irie seemed to have run out of love for Inoue with these words, and at one time thought of eliminating the Kobe Yamaguchigumi and forming an alliance with only three members: the Ikeda clan, the Kizuna-kai, and the Takumi clan.
It may be natural that there is no tomorrow for Kunio Inoue, the leader of the Kobe Yamaguchigumi, who even his allies have run out of love for him.
From “FRIDAY” October 28 and November 4, 2022
Interview and text by Atsushi Mizoguchi, nonfiction writer： Atsushi Mizoguchi, nonfiction writer PHOTO： Yutaka Asai, Shinji Hamazaki, Takeo Yuzoku, Asahi Shimbun (Inoue's home), Kyodo News (Chairman Oda's home)