A pool of blood inside the store…Why was the Ikeda clan leader attacked in a “barbershop”? | FRIDAY DIGITAL

A pool of blood inside the store…Why was the Ikeda clan leader attacked in a “barbershop”?

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A view of the store immediately after the incident

The rivalry between the “Yamaguchigumi VI,” Japan’s largest crime syndicate, and the split-up “Kobe Yamaguchigumi” has entered its eighth year and become unusually protracted. In October, Takashi Ikeda, the leader of the Ikeda-gumi, a gang that broke away from the Yamaguchigumi, was attacked while getting a haircut at a barbershop in Okayama City. The attacker was an executive of the Yamaguchigumi VI Yamaguchi clan’s Sanken-gumi affiliate, but he was wounded in the head by several bodyguards and the store was covered in blood. Since the incident occurred in broad daylight in a barbershop that everyone uses on a daily basis in a quiet residential area, a sense of fear prevailed in the surrounding area, and a nearby elementary school had to take measures to dismiss the students from school.

The incident occurred shortly after 1:00 p.m. on October 26. A barbershop in Okayama City called 110, and when police officers arrived, they found an injured man lying on the floor and a pool of blood around him. The man who broke into the barbershop was carrying a survival knife with an 18 cm blade, but he was subdued and Ikeda was unhurt.

Ikeda arrived at the barbershop around 1:00 pm. For this reason, a senior police investigator said, “The incident occurred not too long after he entered the store. It can be taken as a sign that they were aware of Ikeda’s behavior and planned to commit the crime. He must have been watching Ikeda for some time . The arrested man admitted to the Okayama Prefectural Police that he “thought of stabbing” Ikeda.

It is believed that the Yamaguchigumi VI targeted Ikeda for the attack because he has emerged as a key player in the rivalry since this summer. As of the end of 2021, the latest data available, the Yamaguchigumi VI has approximately 4,000 members, while the Kobe Yamaguchigumi has approximately 510 members, a gap that has widened. Ikeda had proposed a coalition of the Kobe Yamaguchigumi and organizations that have left the group in order to counter the Yamaguchigumi VI.

According to the history so far, Ikeda’s group left the Kobe Yamaguchigumi and declared its independence in July 2021. The Kizuna-kai (former chivalrous organization Yamaguchigumi), which had criticized the financial problems within Kobe Yamaguchigumi, had left the organization earlier, in April 2017. Therefore, Ikeda had taken on the role of tying together Kobe Yamaguchigumi, Ikeda-gumi, and Kizuna-kai as a three-way alliance. However, this has not been realized due to the wishes of Kunio Inoue, the head of the Kobe Yamaguchigumi, but “if it were the 6th Yamaguchigumi, Ikeda would have been the target of exclusion” (the aforementioned police authority official).

Inside the store immediately after the outbreak. A large amount of blood can be seen splattered on the floor.

In light of the attack in Okayama, a senior member of a designated gang based in the Tokyo metropolitan area said, “In the middle of a war, you don’t go out unnecessarily. But there are times when you have to go out, such as to the hospital for medical treatment. Getting a haircut is one of them. I can’t cut my own hair. Many people probably go to the barbershop at least once a month. These outings are a good opportunity for those who are involved in the attacks,” he said.

After explaining these points, he added, “When the master is getting a haircut, we have to be on our guard. The defenders will also be on their guard in their own way,” he added.

In our case, when Oyabun gets a haircut, we have one bodyguard standing by in the store. When the owner gets a haircut, he has one bodyguard waiting for him inside the shop. In addition, a car is placed in front of the store, and one person is seated in the driver’s seat so that the car can leave immediately. We also have one or two people standing by in the car so that if something happens, we can respond immediately.

In the attack in Okayama City, Ikeda’s bodyguards inside the store and the gang members waiting outside the store rushed to the scene and were subdued by the police.

Investigators peering at the victim

This executive added, “As for the attack during a haircut, the case of the Yamaguchigumi Nakano-kai was once famous. In July 1996, Taro Nakano, the chairman of the Nakano Kai, the Yamaguchigumi’s top executive during the fifth generation, was shot by a hitman of the Aizu Kotetsu-kai gang while getting a haircut in Kyoto Prefecture. However, Nakano’s bodyguard returned fire with a pistol. The two hitmen were shot and killed, and Nakano’s bodyguard returned fire. The incident also resulted in students at an elementary school near the scene being escorted out of school by teachers and parents.

Assassinations during haircuts are often depicted in movie scenes. In the hit movie “Battles Without Honor,” which depicted a yakuza war in Hiroshima, and in “The Godfather,” a masterpiece about an American mafia war, a character is shot while getting a haircut in a barbershop with a cloth completely covering his neck, and fresh blood oozes onto the white cloth immediately afterward.

Although Ikeda escaped the incident this time, it seems that in reality, a person is attached to a bodyguard because of the danger involved while getting a haircut when he is unarmed and unprotected. (Honorifics omitted in the text, some titles are as they appeared at the time)

  • Interview and text by Masahiro Ojima

    Nonfiction writer. After working for the Sankei Shimbun in charge of the National Police Agency Press Club, the Metropolitan Police Department Cap, the Kanagawa Prefectural Police Cap, the Judicial Press Club, and the National Tax Agency Press Club, he went freelance. His recent books include "The True Story of the Yamaguchigumi Split" (Bungeishunju)

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