Get the latest data! The gap in power has expanded 25 times… The Yamaguchigumi split war that is now in its 10th year “Surprising Latest Power Chart”. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Get the latest data! The gap in power has expanded 25 times… The Yamaguchigumi split war that is now in its 10th year “Surprising Latest Power Chart”.

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Shinobu Tsukasa, head of the Yamaguchigumi VI. Police officials are also keeping a close watch on his movements before the milestone of the split war.

This summer marks the 10th year since the “Yamaguchigumi VI,” Japan’s largest crime syndicate, split and entered into a rivalry war with the breakaway “Kobe Yamaguchigumi. While the rivalry has been longstanding, the gap in power between the two sides has widened considerably during this time.

It was in 2003 that the Yamaguchigumi VI split. At the time of the split, Yamaguchigumi VI had approximately 6,000 members, while Kobe Yamaguchigumi had approximately 2,800. The difference in strength between the two sides was almost double. After that, there was a succession of affiliated organizations that broke away from Kobe Yamaguchigumi, partly because of the many incidents that occurred on the side of Yamaguchigumi VI.

And before the “10th year of the split war,” the gap in the number of members between the two camps has widened to an unprecedented degree. The National Police Agency compiles the number of members of designated boryokudans as of the end of each year. According to the latest data, the Yamaguchigumi VI had approximately 3,500 members as of the end of last year, while the Kobe Yamaguchigumi had plummeted to approximately 140 members, widening the power gap to 25 to 1. Although the Kobe Yamaguchigumi continues to shrink its organization and the situation appears to have already been decided, the police authorities continue to be vigilant because of the possibility that the rivalry may flare up.

A senior police investigator analyzes that “the speed of decline of the Kobe Yamaguchigumi is fast because many members leave the organization on a gang-by-unit basis. The Kobe Yamaguchigumi was formed by 13 organizations, with Kunio Inoue, who was the head of the Yamaguchigumi, as its leader, and the Takumi, Masaki, Ikeda, and Kyoyukai organizations at its core. However, since the Yamaguchigumi returned to the Yamaguchigumi VI, the Takumi and Ikeda groups left and became independent, and the Masakigumi and Chiyotomokai were dissolved, all five core organizations at the time of formation were separated.

The Kobe Yamaguchigumi is in a state of disunity. A designated gang leader who has been closely observing the rivalry pointed out that “Inoue (the leader of the Kobe Yamaguchigumi) should retire and dissolve the organization, but he may not be able to retire because he may be killed by his henchmen,” and expressed the following opinion: “We can’t end the conflict.

The henchmen believe in their master and entrust him with everything, even their lives. But if the boss retires on his own because he doesn’t want to die for his own reasons, the henchmen will say, ‘What a bastard! If you retire because you are afraid, you should never have caused the split in the first place.

There are not a few members on both sides who have been imprisoned for incidents involving post-split rivalry. For this reason, he also points out, “There is also the logic that those who have gone to prison will continue to be the boss until they come back.

However, there is a story from the Yamaguchigumi VI to Inoue that ‘if he retires, we will guarantee his life. If he retires under these circumstances, it means that he wanted to spare his life. If he becomes a gangster after hearing that he is to become a gangster, it will be too late because he will not be killed. If you are willing to risk your life, you will be targeted by your henchmen. That is why he cannot retire.

Even though the difference in power has become overwhelming, there are background circumstances that prevent Inoue of the Kobe Yamaguchigumi from dissolving his organization and retiring himself, and in reverse, there are “similar but different circumstances” for Shinobu Tsukasa, the 82-year-old leader of the Yamaguchigumi VI, who turned 82 this year. A senior investigator of the police authority, who is different from the aforementioned, pointed out, “The sixth Yamaguchigumi leader, Tsukasa, took over.

There were some reports that Tsukasa VI would hand over to his successor and become “president. Considering his age, there may be such a thought. However, if he takes the name of president, moves to the 7th generation system, and retires himself, he will be asked, ‘Do you admit the existence of Kobe Yamaguchigumi, which has split and left? This will never be admitted. From the VI side, Kobe Yamaguchigumi will be dissolved and they will be made to apologize. Without such a settlement, they cannot back down. The power of Kobe Yamaguchigumi is only getting smaller, but there is no sign of raising the white flag. So the state of confrontation will continue indefinitely.”

There have been no recent incidents of large-scale rivalry between the Yamaguchigumi VI and the Kobe Yamaguchigumi. However, in January of this year, a man was shot and killed at a Starbucks in Shikokuchuo City, Ehime Prefecture. The man arrested on suspicion of murder was Yuichiro Maeya, the number two and young leader of the Ikeda clan. The male victim was a former member of the Ikeda-gumi and had been a member of the Yamaguchigumi VI for a time.

Maeya had himself been shot and seriously wounded by a member of the Yamaguchigumi VI in May ’20. The detailed motive for the Starbucks incident is unknown, but it was an extremely dangerous incident, as stray bullets could have hit ordinary customers. Although the power gap has widened between the Yamaguchigumi VI and the Kobe Yamaguchigumi, it is unclear when these incidents will resurface, but there is no doubt that the situation continues to be dangerous. (Titles omitted)

  • Interview and text Masahiro Ojima

    Nonfiction writer. After working for the Sankei Shimbun in charge of the National Police Agency Press Club, the Metropolitan Police Department Cap, Kanagawa Prefectural Police Cap, Judicial Press Club, and 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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