Heavy Security as Inagawa-kai and Sumiyoshi-kai Leaders Convene at Takadanobaba Temple | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Heavy Security as Inagawa-kai and Sumiyoshi-kai Leaders Convene at Takadanobaba Temple

In broad daylight in a town packed with students and businessmen, a succession of powerful gang leaders appeared...

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Shuji Ogawa, the ninth-generation head of the Sumiyoshi-kai, stayed at the funeral hall for about three hours to mourn the departed. Top executives from the Sumiyoshi-kai also came to pay their respects.
Kazuya Uchibori, the sixth-generation head of the Inagawa-kai, appeared at the funeral hall. Amid peak tension, Sumiyoshi-kai executives greeted him with “Thank you for your efforts.”

A corner of Takadanobaba in Tokyo, usually bustling with students and office workers, became chaotic.


On May 21, at a Buddhist temple less than a 10-minute walk from the station, nearly 20 investigators were on guard. The atmosphere was tense with unmarked police cars deployed. Around 1 PM, a black luxury car entered the temple grounds. As investigators watched tensely, Shuji Ogawa, the head of the Sumiyoshi-kai, emerged from the car and entered the temple, his large frame swaying as he walked. About an hour and a half later, Kazuya Uchibori, the head of the Inagawa-kai, also appeared. 

Why did the top two leaders of Japan’s yakuza world, along with the sixth-generation Yamaguchi-gumi, descend upon Takadanobaba in broad daylight?


“This day was the wake for the third-generation head of the Sumiyoshi-kai affiliated Kobayashi-kai. Kobayashi-kai, based in Ginza, is known as a prominent group within the Sumiyoshi-kai. The significance of the funeral brought out these major figures.


In fact, the leaders of five designated yakuza groups, including Inagawa-kai and Sumiyoshi-kai, attended. Executives from the core organization of the sixth-generation Yamaguchi-gumi, the Kodo-kai, also made an appearance. In recent years, such a large-scale gathering has not been seen in Tokyo.” (journalist knowledgeable about yakuza affairs)

At one point, the number of chauffeur-driven cars lined up outside the funeral hall was so great that investigators had to manage the traffic. However, by 4 PM, most of the mourners had left. Masahiro Oshima, a non-fiction writer known for books like “The Truth Behind the Yamaguchi-gumi Split,” commented, “It is rare for a funeral to be held in the heart of the city.” 


“It is common for yakuza to be denied the use of temples or funeral facilities, even for funerals. However, this time they avoided using the group’s name on the invitation and presented it as a ‘family funeral’ for the Kobayashi family. This unusual approach allowed the ceremony to proceed, bringing yakuza leaders together in the city center. The police were on high alert and closely monitored the event.”


The heightened response from the authorities is linked to the ‘split conflict’ between the sixth-generation Yamaguchi-gumi and the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, which will reach its 10th year this August.


‘’The yakuza world has been in turmoil since the beginning of the year. In January, there was a shooting incident at a Starbucks in Ehime Prefecture, and in April, a grenade was thrown into the home of an anti-sixth-generation faction leader in Okayama Prefecture. Tensions are rising as we approach this significant anniversary.” (journalist)


The underworld may be moving toward a major upheaval.

It’s reported that key figures from most of the Kanto factions attended. The line of mourners remained unbroken, continuing until around 4 PM.

From “FRIDAY,” June 7 and 14, 2024

  • PHOTO Tetsudo Takehiro

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