In Court, Rufi Incident Associate Shares Harsh Past and Aspirations to Become Designer or Novelist | FRIDAY DIGITAL

In Court, Rufi Incident Associate Shares Harsh Past and Aspirations to Become Designer or Novelist

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Suspect Yuuki Watanabe extradited from the Philippines

The defendant, Risa Yamada (27), who was indicted at the initial trial of the attempted robbery incident in Tokyo’s Adachi Ward in January 2023, related to the widespread robbery case under the alias “Rufi,” testified about the vivid exchanges among the leaders at the immigration facility.


For more details, please read Part 1, “Arranging for Fake Arrest Warrants. The Harsh Reality of the Immigration Facility and the Escape Plan of the Leaders Discussed by the Close Associate of the ‘Rufi’ Incident,”

In the first part, a woman close to the Ralphie case told about the harsh reality of the immigration facility and the escape plans of the executives.

In the second part, we introduce the statement from Risa Yamada’s mother. Additionally, in the courtroom, she spoke about her path to becoming a decoy, her regrets, and her future dreams.

“The difficulty my daughter had in showing empathy or sympathy towards others may have stemmed from being betrayed or bullied. She mentioned that she was treated kindly by someone for the first time in the Philippines. I deeply regret her actions and want her to atone for her sins.”

The mother’s statement seeking leniency was read aloud. Raised in a single-parent household, Risa Yamada became a truant in junior high school and attended a night high school. After graduation, she worked in the adult entertainment industry. She later believed that committing crimes was necessary to support her family and alleviate future uncertainties, leading her to apply for illegal side jobs. In 2019, she went to the Philippines and became a decoy.

“At first, she intended to return home within a month, but she was threatened by the leaders that she wouldn’t be allowed to leave for 3-4 years, and out of fear, she complied. Despite Yamada’s originally earnest personality, her work ethic improved, and she became invaluable to the leaders,” said a national newspaper reporter who attended the trial.

Risa Yamada also testified about the brutality of the leaders.

As for defendant Seiya Fujita (39),

“I’ll kill you, I’ll crack your head open.’ From the days of scams, there were many threatening and abusive remarks, and it was a scary person. I heard that if your money embezzlement is discovered, they cut off your ears. I was also threatened with ‘I’ll beat you to a pulp even if you’re a woman.”

It seems she was quite afraid. Regarding defendant Mato Imamura (39),

“He’s a cheerful uncle with extravagant spending,”

while on the other hand,

“Fujita asked, ‘Imamura will break all the bones in your fingers and toes. What do you think?’ I thought he was a dangerous person.”

She also spoke about defendant Yuki Watanabe (39),

“The idea is to earn together and be happy together. It’s important to be part of that circle where only people close to you are happy.”

Speaking like that, he couldn’t defy them. It might have been unfortunate that he reunited with Watanabe and others at the immigration facility after wanting to return and presenting himself to the Japanese Embassy. It’s because he ended up being involved not only in fraud but also in a robbery incident. Defendant Risa Yamada expressed regret, saying, 

“I thought I could only earn money through crime. I should have thought a little more before acting.”

When asked about others who, like himself, worked as underlings within the organized fraud group, he said,

“There were many people in similar situations to mine—those who struggled with communication, those with poor family relationships, and those who couldn’t adapt well to life in Japan.”

While defendant Yamada couldn’t fit into Japanese society, he also mentioned experiencing kindness from people during his time in the Philippines.

“Watanabe and others were deported first, leaving Yamada detained in the facility. Until then, Yamada had been prohibited from interacting with inmates from other countries, but he mentioned being assisted by foreign inmates. He said they encouraged him, saying, ‘You can live without committing crimes.'”


When asked about his future, his eyes suddenly sparkled with vitality,


“I want to become a fashion designer and start my own brand.”


“I think there’s a novel only I can write. I want to write about why people get deceived.”


He passionately expressed his dreams. The contrast between his demeanor and the severity of his crimes was palpable, causing a sense of discomfort. Yamada’s sentencing request is for one year and six months, with the judgment set to be delivered on March 5th.

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  • PHOTO Shinji Hasuo

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