The Legendary “Taepodong” Reveals His “35 Years of Loneliness and Violence” | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The Legendary “Taepodong” Reveals His “35 Years of Loneliness and Violence”

On the occasion of the release of his first book, the man who became the talk of the town after his appearance in "NHK Special: The Realities of Anti-Social Forces," looks back on his life, which was full of legends.

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For the publication of his book, Yusuke returned to Minami for the first time in several years. While he feels nostalgia, he also feels a sense of sadness at the changing cityscape.Whenever I get drunk, a Taepodong falls on Minami.

A name feared by many, his name is Yusuke Yoshimitsu, 35. At the age of 21, he ran 16 girls’ bars and sexy cabarets and created various legends in his life as a charismatic figure in the Minami water business.

We look back on Yusuke’s footsteps in his first book, “Taepodong: The Rampaging Kid Who Changed the History of Osaka Minami’s ‘Night'” (Kodansha), which is currently on sale. (All quotes below are from Yusuke’s own words in the book.)

When I was a lone student

Yusuke was born in October 1986, the youngest of three siblings. His mother took him in. When he was a child, he would always say, “I was poor anyway”. Sometimes he had to share a pack of Chicken Ramen noodles with his two siblings to survive.

Then, he was bullied at a junior high school in Nishi Ward, Tokyo. This was a major turning point for him.

“One day, I began to hear a group of my classmates having a conversation saying, “45, kisso kisso” (forty-five).” 

Yusuke stopped attending junior high school in Nishi Ward after this incident. To support their needs, his mother worked part-time during the day and at a snack bar at night. With his older siblings also attending school, he spent lonely hours by himself. What made up for this was a friend from a junior high school in the neighboring port district whom he had met in a fight.

“Joon’s family was poor, he was a single parent, and he had abandoned his children. At the time, there seemed to be more children in the Minato Ward than in the Nishi Ward who were in the same situation as I was. It would be an exaggeration to say that we huddled together, but I think there was a mutual resonance between me and my classmates in Minato Ward. I remember feeling as if I had made true friends for the first time, and I was very happy.”

“It was around this time that I learned the taste of sake. I also had my first part-time job. I fell in love with an older colleague who had been a high point of my life, and I also experienced a broken heart.”

“Even when we were together, we were so nervous that we could barely hold hands. I was that naive at the time, and I really liked her.”

That is why he was shocked when he found out after graduating from junior high school that his girlfriend had been involved in five relationships.

The distrust he felt toward women at that time never disappeared, and by the time he started working in Minami, he had come to believe that women are merely objects to be used.

At the age of 21, he became charismatic, managing 16 stores

When he was 18 years old and looking for a job, he met Chairman Nishikawa in Minami and was told to come to a certain place and time. Yusuke says, “I felt scared, I felt as if I had stepped into the dark world of Minami.”Instead of going to high school, he spent his days working part-time. From working in the kitchen of a tavern or as a bar attendant, to working as an engraver, “I was shocked at my lack of artistic ability,” he says. But none of these jobs lasted long. He only grew more and more impatient.

“There was also a sense of rivalry with my classmates who had gone on to higher education. I didn’t want to lose because I only graduated from junior high school.”

One day, when he turned 18, Yusuke entered Minami, Osaka, in earnest.


He worked at a water business run by a man named Chairman Nishikawa (a pseudonym). He followed the mentality of the girls in the cast and overcame problems with customers and gang wars, and quickly became a prominent figure in the business.

It was around this time that he came up with the name “Taepodong”. As he drowned his fatigue from work by drinking and violence, his drinking became more and more vigorous. A fellow employee saw this and gave him the name “Taepodong” which is where it came from.

Six months after joining the restaurant, he was promoted to manager, and six months after that, to owner. He gained the trust of Chairman Nishikawa, and at the age of 21, he was entrusted with the management of a total of 16 affiliated stores. A year later, however, a major pitfall awaited him.

“It was during a general meeting of the group. In front of the assembled members, the chairman suddenly announced, “As of today, Yusuke Yoshimitsu will be dismissed from his position.” Of course, I, who had not been informed of anything, was in a panic.”

The cause was a tip-off. One of the staff members, who was angry at him for his work, reportedly told the chairman that “Yusuke was colluding with another president and trying to do another business without telling the chairman,” out of spite.

Yusuke had lost his job, his monthly income of nearly 8 million yen had suddenly disappeared, and he had no savings because he was spending all his money on alcohol and gambling. He felt like a beggar.


Blood drinking with a group of foreign delinquents and a standoff with 50 policemen

After losing his job, he worked for a system finance company through a friend. He says that he did everything from telemarketing to check-cashing business.After the betrayal, Yusuke was once again left alone, but four months later, he was personally contacted by Chairman Nishikawa, who told him to come back. The reason was that the group’s management had suddenly taken a turn for the worse. From then on, he worked feverishly to make up for the time he had lost.


Then there was an incident in which he was called out by a group of delinquent foreigners for a flirtation he had no recollection of. The boss was a man named Yair, Yusuke’s senior. The situation could have developed into a war between the groups, but things took an unexpected turn.

Yusuke, who had gone to the other group’s headquarters all by himself, was said to have been so gutsy that Yair asked him if he would like to become a brother.

“I replied, “Yeah, that’s a good idea.” Yair prepared a shot glass that would serve as a sake cup and began pouring tequila. I thought we were going to toast, but Yair took out a knife and began to drip blood from his thumb, the tip of which was attached to the blade, into my glass.”

After pouring the blood into each other’s glasses, they drank the red, cloudy tequila and exchanged a brotherly bond. Then the drinking party began, mobilizing all of each other’s groups. The party went on until late at night.

Business was smooth sailing; at the age of 24, he opened a bar in the middle of Minami. However, the footsteps of doom were gradually but steadily approaching. It all started with a trivial quarrel. But when about 10 police officers heard the commotion and came to subdue him, he blew one of them away.

“Obstruction of justice!”

Hearing these words, Yusuke said he ran away in a panic. His friends said, “Yusuke, there are dozens of police heading your way right now! Get out of there now!”  Without knowing what to expect, he got into a cab and just as he told the driver where he was going, he was surrounded by police officers. As many as 50 police officers had gathered at the scene. Yusuke was arrested on the spot. Once again, he lost everything.

Marriage, imprisonment, and an appearance on NHK. How is he now that he has left Minami?

Yusuke says he feels uncomfortable about being called a “semi-grek. I am not recognized by anyone as a half-legal, nor do I call myself a half-legal, so I am stuck with the label for the rest of my life,” he says.

A few months before his big bust with a police officer, Yusuke fell in love with one of the cast members at a restaurant he owned. Six months later, they married and had a son. However, he was arrested for obstruction of justice and sentenced to prison for the first time, including past troubles, etc. Three and a half years in prison was more than enough time to throw the family off kilter. He was 31 years old when he was finally released from prison. He lost his friends, family, and job, and only empty time passed.

In the year he turned 34, he received a request for a job. It was an offer to appear in the NHK Special “Hanrei: The Realities of Anti-Social Forces. The candid life and unpretentious face that Yusuke showed during his close-up interview drew a huge response.

Yusuke recalls his turbulent life.

Even though I don’t agree with the arrest, I have no regrets about having spent half of my life in Minami. (I have done what I could do. That is my honest feeling now. It would be a lie to say that I am not lonely, but I have no regrets about Minami. Perhaps it is because I have spent as much time as I could in Minami that I feel the way I do now. I am leaving Minami and moving on to a new life.

Yusuke has left Minami, where he has tasted both the sweet and sour sides of life, to embark on a new life. The second chapter of his legend has only just begun.

Currently, he continues to take on challenges in a variety of fields, including as a YouTuber and singer. He also posts information on his latest activities on Instagram “@king_t.p.d.n”.
  • Photo Kei Kato

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