He is a leading authority on gang reporting and has written about his half-century of yakuza reporting in his new book, “Eat or Be Eaten: My Yamaguchi-gumi Experience. Here is his full report.
On the afternoon of September 16, the Yamaken-gumi V (headed by Koji Nakata) held a meeting at a coffee shop in Kakogawa City, Hyogo Prefecture, and decided to return to the Yamaguchi-gumi VI (headed by Shinobu Tsukasa).
One of the members who gathered at the meeting asked, “Does Nakata really want to return to the Yamaguchi-gumi? I want to hear directly from him,” and “Is he going to turn his back on Nagoya (Kodokai) now?
Before and after his arrest and indictment in December 2007 for the shooting of a member of the Kodokai, Nakata had often said, “The enemy is Nagoya (Kodokai). It is hard to imagine that such a leader would normally want to return to the Yamaguchi-gumi VI, which is controlled by Kodokai.
The meeting was moderated by Hitoshi Fukutomi, the head of the Yamaken-gumi, but for some reason, Fukutomi, the Yamaguchi-gumi VI, and the Hyogo Prefectural Police, who had brought up the idea of a reconciliation, were very upfront about it. The meeting started at around 2:00 p.m., and half an hour into the meeting, they began to announce to the media and other interested parties that the meeting had not been overturned and that they were back together.
At the meeting, a letter from the leader of the Nakata clan was read out from the jail. He said that he decided to return to the gang considering the future of the young members. Since he had long since severed ties with the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, it was difficult for him to voice his opposition to this letter.
The Yamaken-gumi has returned to the Yamaguchi-gumi, just as the VI side had hoped. Nakata, the leader of the Yamaken-gumi V, is expected to be sentenced to more than ten years in prison in the upcoming trial, but the VI side has decided to treat him as a “senior member”.
Normally, newcomers to the clan sit at the end of the line of young men. Thereafter, the rank gradually rises with each new member. Nakata was a direct member of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, but there are three ways to treat him: 1) to keep him in the custody of the Nonai-gumi led by Masahiro Nonai, the young head of Kodokai, for example; 2) to receive him as a direct member of Kodokai; or 3) to receive him as a direct member of the Yamaguchi-gumi VI. Nakata was given the best treatment in (3), and he suddenly became a top executive.
The merit of welcoming the Sanken-gumi to one’s own ranks is that one can add to one’s own forces elite members who are familiar with the enemy’s inner workings. This is expected to raise the head of the previous boss. The Sanken-gumi will have to make Kunio Inoue, the leader of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, a dead man. If they don’t do that well, they won’t have a seat in the Yamaguchi-gumi VI.
Needless to say, the absorption of the Yamaken-gumi is based on the strategy of Seiji Takayama, the young leader of the Yamaguchi-gumi. Seiji Takayama, the leader of the Yamaguchi-gumi, has to put an end to the war that has split the Yamaguchi-gumi as soon as possible. If he fails, he will be underestimated in the yakuza world and lose his reputation. No one will believe in the Yamaguchi-gumi’s ability to maintain peace and order.
The immediate goals are the dissolution of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi and the retirement of its leader Kunio Inoue. The absorption of the Yamaken-gumi V is a way to hold on to those who are involved in the female relationships of the leader, and to attack his sleeping quarters and beat him to a pulp.
There are a few members of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi who stayed on the Kobe side when the leader Nakata left Kobe. On August 5, during the Olympics, someone shot Norikazu Atae in front of his house in Hyogo Ward, Kobe City. One of the shots missed, while the other grazed the inside of his left thigh. The young leader tried to escape, but the motorcycle followed him halfway, looking for a chance to strike again.
The leader of a neutral organization speculated.
“The perpetrator has not yet been arrested. However, we can feel the desperate will to kill, such as chasing after him. We are certain that he is a hitman of the Yamaguchi-gumi VI. If the man had succeeded, Young Master Takayama would have made him surrender and shown to the world that the Yamaguchi-gumi VI had killed him. But because he failed to kill him, he didn’t let him turn himself in. There is no plot to say that they went to the trouble of forcing him to surrender during the Olympics, but failed. Why did he try to take over Yo Yo? It was a strategic move to emphasize the importance of absorbing the Nakata Yamaken-gumi.
Osamu Teraoka, the young leader of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, is a long-time brother of Nozomu Ikezawa, the president of the Kyodo-kai (Hiroshima), and Teraoka had a meeting with Ikezawa and Yutaka Nakaoka, the president of the Asano-gumi (Okayama), in Onomichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture, on September 1. According to one theory, young leader Teraoka secretly received the intention of young leader Takayama and approached independent organizations in western Japan about dissolving the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi.
The other groups did not necessarily agree with the dissolution of Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, and the discussion seems to have ended halfway, but young leader Takayama is trying to dismantle Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi from the rear. He intends to gradually narrow the net around the Inoue clan leader, isolate him thoroughly, and kill him. The other big leaders of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi are also the object of his hatred, but that is a minor issue, and his ultimate goal is to get Kunio Inoue’s balls.
From “FRIDAY” October 8, 2021 issue
Reporting and writing by： Atsushi Mizoguchi
Born in Tokyo in 1967. Graduated from Waseda University, Faculty of Political Science and Economics. He is a leading expert on gangsters. His latest book, "Eat or be eaten? My Yamaguchi-gumi experience" (Kodansha), which describes the inside story of his continuous confrontation with Japan's largest gang organization for half a century, is now on sale.