Tension Mounts as Appellate Court Rules on Nomura and Tagami of Kudo-kai, Chilling Atmosphere Surrounds Ultra High-Security Convoy | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Tension Mounts as Appellate Court Rules on Nomura and Tagami of Kudo-kai, Chilling Atmosphere Surrounds Ultra High-Security Convoy

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A convoy carrying defendants Nomura and Tague leaving Fukuoka Detention Center. It was impossible to tell which one they were riding in.

On March 12th, the appellate court ruling regarding the series of incidents involving the Kudo-kai was handed down at the Fukuoka High Court.

The death sentence imposed by the first trial at the Fukuoka District Court was overturned, and Kudo-kai’s leader, defendant Satoru Nomura, was unexpectedly sentenced to life imprisonment. Although receiving a life sentence, Nomura has not wavered from his consistent plea of innocence and immediately appealed to the Supreme Court along with his co-defendant and vice-chairman, Fumio Tagami.

Upon appearance, the presiding judge stated, “If there are any irregular remarks, immediate withdrawal will be ordered,” likely stemming from an incident in August 2021 when Nomura, after receiving the death sentence at the Fukuoka District Court, made a shocking statement, saying, “I was asking for a fair trial. Is this what a fair trial looks like? You will regret this for the rest of your life.” However, this time, it is reported that Nomura and Tagami attended the trial quietly, bowing respectfully when the judge read the verdict and when entering and leaving the courtroom.

On the day of the appellate court ruling, similar to previous years, strict security measures were implemented by the police around the detention center and the courthouse.

Outside the detention center, around 30 personnel, including staff and police officers from the Fukuoka Prefectural Police and investigators, were guarding the vicinity of the main gate, maintaining vigilance against unforeseen circumstances. Blue sheets were placed over the vehicles to prevent anyone from seeing inside when Nomura and Tagami boarded the escort vehicle at the detention center, making it impossible to see them from outside.

The convoy also maintained a high level of security as usual. Two unmarked patrol cars led the way followed by two escort vehicles, and two more unmarked patrol cars followed, with a spare escort vehicle positioned at the rear. It remains unclear which escort vehicle the defendants were in. Additionally, some vehicles in the convoy were equipped with bulletproof reinforcement.

A line of sight lines were set up as the convoy departed the jail.

A total of six vehicles in the convoy departed from the detention center shortly after 9:00 a.m. and arrived at the courthouse around 9:20 a.m. A prefectural police helicopter tracked the convoy from above, ensuring route verification and security measures.

To prevent other vehicles from getting close, signal control was implemented, allowing the convoy to travel to the courthouse almost non-stop. During lane changes, the rear vehicles quickly moved to form a protective formation around the escort vehicles, conveying a tense atmosphere, alert to the possibility of an attempted rescue or attack by hostile forces.

The trial began at 10:00 a.m. Once again, numerous spectators gathered seeking admission tickets, with around 300 people vying for the 44 available seats. While 58 seats were provided during last September’s appellate trial, it seems that this time, access was even more restricted.

After the trial concluded around 3:00 p.m., spectators began to leave the courthouse. Shortly afterward, the convoy carrying both defendants also departed from the courthouse.

The area surrounding the courthouse was under the watchful eye of Fukuoka Prefectural Police investigators and court personnel, creating an intimidating atmosphere. Traffic signals were controlled at nearby intersections, causing delays as pedestrians unaware of the situation were detained, leading to traffic congestion as the convoy returned to the detention center amidst the overlap with school and work commuting hours.

Investigators conducting a vigil around the jail
Nearly 300 people gathered in the 44-seat auditorium.
Pedestrians and others were forced to stop when leaving the courthouse
  • Photography, Reporting, and Writing Takuma Arimura

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