Yamakengumi Headquarters Office in the Vortex
The possibility of the closure of the Kobe City headquarters office of Yamakengumi, a leading affiliate of Japan’s largest crime syndicate, Yamaguchigumi VI, is increasing. In response to a petition filed by the Hyogo Prefectural Center for the Elimination of Boryokudan, a public interest incorporated foundation acting on behalf of neighborhood residents under the Anti-Boryokudan Law, the Kobe District Court decided on May 16, 2022 to issue a provisional injunction restraining use by the Yamaguchigumi Group VI side. The Yamakengumi is considered the gold standard of gangster society, known not only within Yamaguchigumi but also to organizations throughout Japan, and the threat of its closure is causing a wide concern.
Yamakengumi is known as the organization formed by Kenichi Yamamoto, who was long the number two, or young leader, under Kazuo Taoka, the third Yamaguchigumi leader, who raised Yamaguchigumi to the largest organization and is still deified as a charismatic figure today. Yamamoto was considered the most promising candidate for the fourth generation, but when Taoka died in July 1981, Yamamoto died soon after.
Thereafter, Yamaguchigumi split over the position of the fourth head, and after the Yamaichi War, which was regarded as the worst gang war in history, Yoshinori Watanabe from Yamaken-Gumi assumed the position of the fifth head. Since then, as the largest faction within Yamaguchigumi, Yamaken-gumi’s dominance was overwhelming. The following words were whispered at that time as a symbol of Sanken-gumi.
If it is not the Yamaguchigumi, it is not the Yamaguchigumi.
In 2005, the 5th Yamaguchigumi was replaced by the 6th Yamaguchigumi, and when the management of the organization came to be led by Kodokai, the parent organization from which the leader, Shinobu Tsukasa, came from, it split again in August 2015. Yamakengumi was the core organization of the departed Kobe Yamaguchigumi. But in July 2020, Yamakengumi left the Kobe Yamaguchigumi and declared its independence. And in September 2021, returned to the 6th Yamaguchigumi.
A senior police official said, “It was surprising that Kobe Yamaguchigumi, with Yamakengumi at its core, left the 6th Yamaguchigumi, but it was even more surprising that Yamakengumi subsequently left Kobe (Yamaguchigumi ). And then to return to the 6th generation (Yamaguchigumi )…,” he recalls. Because of its enormous power, Yamaguchigumi has always been the center of attention not only in the gangster community but also by the police authorities.
Once there was even a bombing incident.
The headquarters office of the Sanken-gumi is located in Hanakuma-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe. For this reason, in the gangster community, Sanken-gumi is known as Hanakuma, after the name of the place. Because this district is a residential area a short distance away from the government offices in Kobe, local residents were in constant danger of being involved in a gang war due to the presence of the gang’s office.
In October 2019, a senior member of the Kodokai-affiliated Yamaguchigumi VI, which was in a state of conflict at the time, shot and killed two members of the Yamaguchigumi at once near the Yamakengumi headquarters office. Immediately after the incident, information was exchanged among both the gang community and police authorities, such as a sound (gunshot) was heard in Hanakuma and it seems that two people were also shot at the same time.
While there is concern about damage caused by stray bullets even if a handgun is fired in a residential area, there was also an incident in November 2010 when a grenade-like object exploded on the street in front of the Yamakengumi headquarters office. No one was injured in this incident, but it was confirmed that the exterior walls and windows of a house across the street as well as the Yamakengumi office were damaged.