The Yamaguchigumi split war, now in its 10th year, is a shocking “latest power situation. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The Yamaguchigumi split war, now in its 10th year, is a shocking “latest power situation.

Nonfiction writer Masahiro Ojima approaches the reality of yakuza society.

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The head of the Yamaguchigumi VI clan, Tsukasa (center), attended the last meeting held in December last year. Wakao Takayama (second from left) was also present at the meeting. Other executives were also present and renewed their commitment to ending the war.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the split of the Yamaguchigumi VI, Japan’s largest crime syndicate, and its rivalry with the breakaway Kobe Yamaguchigumi. Although Kobe Yamaguchigumi had the momentum at the time of the split in August 2003, in recent years, Yamaguchigumi VI has been on the offensive and Kobe Yamaguchigumi has seen its organization continue to shrink, and this trend is expected to continue in 2012.

According to data published by the National Police Agency, at the time of the split in 2003, Yamaguchigumi VI had approximately 6,000 members and Kobe Yamaguchigumi had approximately 2,800 members. Since it was believed that “the cause of the split was money for everything” (a senior police official in charge of organized crime measures), a number of organizations initially joined the Kobe Yamaguchigumi, which advocated money-free organizational management.

However, the same problem was brought up again within the Kobe Yamaguchigumi. Criticizing the organizational management of its leader Kunio Inoue, especially irregular money collection, some groups left the organization in April 2005. The formation of the ninkyogumi Yamaguchigumi (now the Kizuna-kai) was the beginning of the downsizing of the organization. As the rivalry continued, there were a number of incidents involving Yamaguchigumi VI, and a number of affiliated organizations left the Kobe Yamaguchigumi one after another.

In particular, the Ikeda-gumi, an influential organization under the Kobe Yamaguchigumi umbrella, had a series of incidents in which its top executives were shot. In May 2004, the organization’s number two leader, Noboru Takagi, was shot to death. In May 2008, Takagi’s successor, Yuichiro Maeya, was also shot and seriously wounded. All of them were members of the Yamaguchigumi VI gang. In addition, a top executive of the Yamaguchigumi’s core organization, the Yamakengumi, from which the head of the Inoue clan of the Kobe Yamaguchigumi hails, was also attacked with a knife. A senior police official said, “There was a money problem.

There was also the issue of money, but in a gang war, if a case is brought to the attention of the gang, retaliation follows, and it seems that dissatisfaction built up because Inoue, the head of Kobe Yamaguchi, did not allow it. The reason why he did not allow his affiliated organizations to retaliate is still unclear.

A senior official of a designated crime syndicate who has been watching the rivalry points out, “If there is no payback in a war, it will be questioned in yakuza circles, and the interested katagi (general public) will not be able to explain it.

Executives of the Yamaguchigumi VI who participated in the Natsudai

The Kobe Yamaguchigumi was formed by 13 organizations with five organizations at its core: the Yamaguchigumi, the Takumi Gumi, the Chiyotomokai, the Ikeda Gumi, and the Masaki Gumi. However, the Ikeda-gumi withdrew in July 2008, and in August of the same year, the majority of the members of the Yamaken-gumi announced that they were leaving the organization. The Masaki Gumi announced its dissolution in the same month. The Okayama Prefectural Public Safety Commission recognized the Ikeda-gumi as an independent organization and designated it as a designated boryokudan under the Anti-Boryokudan Law, and the Yamaken-gumi was to rejoin the Yamaguchigumi VI. Reflecting these developments, the number of members of the Kobe Yamaguchigumi in ’21 had been reduced to approximately 510.

The downsizing of the Kobe Yamaguchigumi organization continued further. Osamu Teraoka, the chairman of Chivalrous Friends Association, was working to settle the situation by dissolving the Kobe Yamaguchigumi, but Inoue refused. Teraoka not only announced his departure in August of 2010, but in December of the same year, he apologized to Seiji Takayama, the number two leader of Yamaguchigumi VI, and announced his own retirement and the dissolution of Chiyuukai. In September of the same year, Tadashi Irie, the head of the Takumi clan, which had been the core organization as well as the chiyuyukai, also announced his withdrawal.

The Kobe Yamaguchigumi is in a state of disunity, and according to the latest data from the National Police Agency, the number of members of the 6th Yamaguchigumi in 2010 was approximately 3,800, while that of the Kobe Yamaguchigumi was approximately 330, a large difference of less than one-tenth of one percent.

However, as of 2010, Kobe Yamaguchigumi’s membership “is actually around 200,” another senior police official reveals.

Chiyukyokai and Takumi Gumi have announced that they have left the Kobe Yamaguchigumi, but as of ’22, the police do not recognize this. It may be a disguise to say that they have left. If they admit that he left, he would not be subject to regulations under the Anti-Gang Law. If a war breaks out, they will not be able to restrict the use of their offices.

It was not until 2011 that the police recognized the breakaway of the Takumi group and the dissolution of the Kyoyukai. At that time, the Takumi group had approximately 90 members and the Kyoyukai had approximately 30 members. Subtracting this number, the number would be “around 200” as revealed by the aforementioned senior police official.

On the other hand, a Yamaguchigumi VI-affiliated executive expressed the view that “there should not be 200 people, and it should be around 100.

Every year, the National Police Agency officially counts the number of members of each gang as of the end of the year and announces it around the spring of the following year. When the latest data on the number of members as of the end of 2011 is released by the National Police Agency in the spring of 2012, the number of members of the Yamaguchigumi VI and the Kobe Yamaguchigumi, which have been in a rivalry for 10 years, is expected to show an even wider gap. (In the text, some honorific titles are omitted.)

  • Interview and text Masahiro Ojima

    Nonfiction writer. After working for the Sankei Shimbun in the National Police Agency Press Club, the Metropolitan Police Department, the Kanagawa Prefectural Police Department, the Judicial Press Club, and the National Tax Agency Press Club, he went freelance. His recent book is "How We Live: Money, Women, and Quitting Time of the Modern Yakuza" (Kodansha + Alpha Shinsho).

  • PHOTO Shinji Hamasaki

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