The Fukuoka District Court sentenced Satoru Nomura, the head and president of the Kudo-kai gang based in Kitakyushu City, to death in August 2021 after he was convicted of murder in four attacks on ordinary citizens, including the shooting death of the head of a former fishing cooperative. Fumio Tagami, the number two chairman, was sentenced to life imprisonment. The fact that this was the first death sentence for a top gang leader was taken up as major news.
Immediately after the death sentence was handed down, Nomura said to the presiding judge, “You’ll regret this for the rest of your life. Nomura’s remark, which could have been taken as a threat, drew a lot of attention. It was speculated that the unusual comment was a message to the Kudo-kai members to retaliate against the judge.
Presumed involvement in the case
The four cases in which Nomura was charged with murder and other crimes were the shooting death of a former head of a fishing cooperative in Kitakyushu City in February 1998, the shooting of a former police captain in Fukuoka City in April 2012, the stabbing of a female nurse in Fukuoka City in January 2013, and the stabbing of a male dentist in Kitakyushu City in May 2014.
In its ruling, the Fukuoka District Court positioned Nomura as a “special person” who was treated at the highest level within the Kudo-kai. In addition, the court stated, “It can be inferred that the defendants were involved in decision-making on important matters within the Kudo-kai. It is hard to imagine that the members of the Kudo-kai would ignore the intentions of the defendant Nomura and others and carry out the plan, given the nature of the organization.
In the case of the shooting death of the former head of the fishing cooperative, he said, “It happened in the midst of Nomura’s serious interest in the interests of the victim’s family and his refusal to associate with them. It is impossible to imagine that he was not involved, and a conspiracy is recognized. Regarding the motive, he said, “It was systematic and planned, and the disregard for human life was remarkable. It had a tremendous social impact. He was involved as a ringleader by utilizing the organizational power of the gang. The choice of the extreme penalty is unavoidable,” he said.
Intent to retaliate?
In the four cases, Nomura expressed strong dissatisfaction with the reasons for the sentences, such as the “inference” of conspiracy to instruct the members of the gang to carry out the crimes, which led to the following statement immediately after the main sentence of the death penalty was handed down.
“What is this trial? It’s not fair at all. Everything is inferred, inferred, inferred. You’ll regret this for the rest of your life.
These are words that could be taken as threats.
A senior police official who has led investigations of gangster crimes in the field for many years is angry.
“It’s a statement that could be taken as an attempt to harass the Kudo-kai members in such a way that the judge who issued such a ruling against them would regret it. This is unacceptable. If the judges are attacked, we will end up like a certain South American country infested with drug gangs.
A senior official of the National Police Agency, which is in charge of investigating gang crimes nationwide and other measures against organized crime, expressed a similar opinion, saying, “An attack on judges by Kudo-kai members, who interpreted the intention of Nomura’s statement, is unacceptable.
On the other hand, he also pointed out that “Kudo-kai is unlikely to launch a new incident in response to Nomura’s statement.
If they do file a case…
“If any incident were to occur, even to the extent of harassing the judge, it would prove that the Kudo-kai is an organization that ‘discovers and carries out the meanings of its master’s statements,’ which would back up the ruling. For this reason, if there is an attack, etc., the death sentence will be correct.
In short, if the defendant’s comments in court caused the incident, the court would again say, “It will be ‘inferred’ that the defendant took Nomura’s comments as instructions and carried out the crime. Therefore, there is a high possibility that the court will issue a verdict saying, “It is ‘inferred’ that the defendant took Nomura’s statement as an instruction and carried out the crime, and therefore, a conspiracy between Nomura and the perpetrator is recognized.
Nevertheless, the police authorities have placed the judges in charge of the case under 24-hour personal protection in case of unforeseen circumstances. The presiding judge who sentenced Nomura to death has now been transferred to the Tokyo High Court, so the Metropolitan Police Department is providing security for him.
Kokura, in the center of Kitakyushu City, has long been frightened by the Kudo-kai’s reign of violence. Kitakyushu has come to be known as the “City of Violence” and the “City of Shura. Although Nomura has been sentenced to death, it is still in the first trial stage. Nomura and the other defendants are appealing against the verdict, so it will take some more time for the city of Kokura to find some peace.
Reporting and writing by： Masahiro Ojima
Nonfiction writer. Worked at the Sankei Shimbun, where he was in charge of the National Police Agency Press Club, the Metropolitan Police Department Cap, the Kanagawa Prefectural Police Cap, the Judicial Press Club, and the National Tax Agency Press Club, before going freelance. Author of "Kaizaiya to Bubble" (Bunshun Shinsho).
Photo： Jiji Press