Ehime Starbucks Shooting: Executives Speak Up About Fear of Coffee Shop Attacks | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Ehime Starbucks Shooting: Executives Speak Up About Fear of Coffee Shop Attacks

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Ehime Prefectural Police officials raid the Ikeda-gumi office. Investigations are still underway into the shooting incident at a cafe in the prefecture

The shooting death of Yuichiro Ishikawa, a man of unknown occupation, inside the Starbucks Coffee Aeon Town Kawanoe store, a coffee shop in a shopping mall in Shikokuchuo City, Ehime Prefecture, shocked the public because the shooting took place in broad daylight in the presence of many ordinary customers. The culprit is believed to be Yuichiro Maeya, the number two young leader of the Ikeda clan, a designated crime syndicate, and the Ehime Prefectural Police have placed a wanted person on a murder charge and are pursuing his whereabouts. However, Maetani fled the scene with a gun in his possession, and tensions are high because of fears that the general public may become collateral damage if a similar incident occurs again.


Coffee shops are places used by an unspecified number of people, but surprisingly there are many shooting incidents by gangsters. Most recently, in May 2023, a 6th Yamaguchi-gumi executive was shot to death at the Doutor Coffee Shop Machida Terminal store in Machida, Tokyo, and a former Inagawa-kai executive was arrested. In August 1997, Masaru Takumi, the Wakagashira of the 5th Yamaguchi-gumi, was shot to death by a hitman from the Nakano-kai of the Yamaguchi-gumi at a coffee shop in a hotel in Kobe, and a dentist who was nearby also died as a result of the gunfire. .

​Several other incidents have also occurred so far. A gang leader said, Because it is a public place, people let their guard down and think, ‘I won’t be killed here. Those who do this don’t care if there are other customers,

A designated gang leader active in the Tokyo metropolitan area shared his experience: I was once shot by a yakuza from another organization with whom I was having trouble while we were meeting in a coffee shop, but miraculously survived.

He told us, “I was in trouble with a yakuza from another organization over money, and we had repeated discussions at a coffee shop. One day during the meeting, the other party sitting across from him suddenly took out a pistol and fired at him at close range, shooting him in the chest.

In novels and other books about things, it is sometimes described as a pain like being plunged into with burning fire chopsticks, but when you are actually shot, it does not feel like that. It was as if an iron object weighing several dozen kilograms was pressed against my chest, and I could not breathe. I got up, but then I just collapsed.

The officer who was shot was rushed to a nearby hospital and underwent emergency surgery.

He said, “I was unconscious [after the shooting], but I even regained consciousness while being transported by ambulance. Later, he was unconscious again, but while he was undergoing surgery, he regained consciousness and remembers hearing doctors talking to him, saying things like, That’s pretty bad. The bullet had gone through his body.”


The surgery was successful. When he was able to speak, the doctor in charge of his case recalled that it was truly a miracle that he was able to live without dying, even though he had been shot in the upper half of his body and his internal organs had been damaged. The officer will  return to work after a long treatment.

It is true that when you fire a handgun, the bullet becomes hot (because the gunpowder ignites).The heat and pain that comes from having a pair of chopsticks thrust into or pressed against your body is the result of the bullet grazing your skin. You might feel it if you were shot in the chest, or in a limb.However, if you were shot in the chest, you wouldn’t feel this at all.It was more of a feeling of pressure than pain.The pain (of the wound) I started feeling it around the time the surgery was over.

Maeya, who shot and killed his partner at a Starbucks Coffee in Shikokuchuo, Ehime Prefecture, had also once been shot and miraculously survived. In May 2020, he was shot in the abdomen and seriously wounded near the Ikeda-gumi headquarters office in Okayama City. The shooter was a member of the VI Yamaguchigumi clan. Maeya did not retaliate on this occasion and remained silent.


Meanwhile, police authorities have confirmed that the murdered Ishikawa used to belong to Ikeda-gumi and had transferred to the Yamaguchi Gumi VI about a year ago. This year marks the 10th year of a state of rivalry and warfare between the VI Yamaguchigumi and the Kobe Yamaguchigumi, which split and left the group on August 15. Ikeda-gumi had been a leading organization since the formation of Kobe Yamaguchigumi, but in July 2020, in the midst of the conflict, Ikeda-gumi declared its withdrawal from the organization. In November 2021, the Okayama Prefectural Public Safety Commission designated the Ikeda-gumi as an independent organization.

In October 2022, Ikeda-gumi leader Takashi Ikeda was attacked by Yamaguchi Gumi VI-affiliated cadres while getting a haircut in Okayama City, and the two sides are said to be in a state of rivalry and warfare. It is unclear if this is the background or if the motive is a personal grudge, but there have been no large-scale conflicts between gangs in Ehime Prefecture.Furthermore, the incident occurred at a coffee shop, which is a place for the general public to relax, causing concern among local residents. (Titles omitted in the text)

  • Interview and text by Masahiro Ojima PHOTO Kyodo News

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