Avoiding Elections, Olympics, and Summits — The Unknown World of Yakuza Exposed! | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Avoiding Elections, Olympics, and Summits — The Unknown World of Yakuza Exposed!

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Shinobu Tsukasa, head of the Yamaguchigumi clan, appears at Shin-Yokohama Station. The Yamaguchigumi split war has repeatedly intensified and subsided (Photo by Shinji Hamasaki)

The rivalry between the 6th Yamaguchigumi and the Kobe Yamaguchigumi, the largest gang in Japan, will soon mark seven years and has become unusually protracted. In January, both sides were designated as specified rivalry-designated gangs, and police authorities have been trying to control them.

The rivalry had died down for a time, but since May there have been a number of incidents that threaten to flare up. The police authorities have been increasing their security, and a senior investigator has pointed out that “they seem to have their own agenda as conflicts continues to arise.

With the prolonged spread of the new coronavirus, the war had quieted down at the beginning of 2022, perhaps due to the explosive expansion of the number of infected people caused by the spread of the Omicron Variant as the sixth wave of the virus. However, on May 8, 2022, a vehicle raided the home of Tadashi Irie, the number two in the Kobe Yamaguchi Gumi and leader of the Takumi clan. Furthermore, on June 5 of the same year, a man fired more than a dozen bullets from a pistol at the home of gang leader Kunio Inoue.

There is a big difference from the past.

Furthermore, on the 6th of the same month, a vehicle also raided the Kobe City home of Kizumasa Oda, the head of Kizuna Kai, which was formed after a further split from the Kobe Yamaguchigumi. A Kizumikai member was shot and seriously injured before and after the raid, and a vehicle also raided a Kobe Yamaguchigumi affiliated office in Saga City. In both cases, those arrested were members of the 6th Yamaguchigumi and related parties.

The 6th Yamaguchigumi split in August 2015, and there were shootings at the office, throwing of Molotov cocktails, vehicle raids, and brawls in the downtown area between the 6th Yamaguchigumi and the breakaway Kobe Yamaguchigumi. In the fall of 2019, when the war intensified, there was also a brutal incident in which a senior member of the Kobe Yamaguchigumi was killed by a former member of the 6th Yamaguchigumi-affiliated group after being hit by dozens of bullets from an automatic rifle.

However, senior police investigators point out that there is a significant difference between the recent incidents, such as the shooting at the home of the head of the Kobe Yamaguchigumi, and previous incidents.

The recent incidents involved the targeting of the homes of the head and number two of the Kobe Yamaguchigumi. Such incidents have never happened before, indicating pressure from the side of the 6th Yamaguchigumi.

A perfect chance to take credit.

After the split, there was a succession of organizations joining the Kobe Yamaguchigumi, and the group gained momentum, but its power gradually shrank. As of the end of 2021, the latest data available, the National Police Agency compiled the nationwide strength of both organizations, and the Kobe Yamaguchigumi has approximately 510 members compared to the Yamaguchigumi VI’s approximately 4,000 members, an eight-fold difference. Initially, both sides were causing incidents, but in recent years, attacks from the Yamaguchigumi VI side have become overwhelming.

The aforementioned investigative official said, “The course of the confrontation has already been decided.”

The course of the confrontation seems to have already been decided. From now on, it is a question of when Kobe Yamaguchigumi will raise the white flag. However, if the conflict comes to an end, the Yamaguchigumi VI-affiliated organizations will lose their chance to take credit for it.

He points out.

“That is why there have been so many incidents caused by the side of the 6th Yamaguchigumi. They target Inoue, the top boss, and Irie, the number two boss. That way, they can sell their name.”

He presented his analysis.

However, a series of incidents that put pressure on the Kobe Yamaguchigumi side occurred from May to early June, but since then, the situation has calmed down again. An old senior official of the designated gang expressed the opinion that this means that when national events are held, they do not cause a commotion.

In recent years, when the Ise-Shima Summit was held (in May 2016) and the Tokyo Olympics were held last summer, they were in the midst of a feud, but they did not cause any major incidents. Security is being provided throughout the country, and any incident at these times would be an embarrassment to the police.

He recalls.

Loyalists remain.

The most recent election, he said, was the Upper House election, which was announced on June 22 and the vote was held on July 10.

Even though the public’s interest in the elections is low, people still flock to popular politicians at speeches and other events in various parts of the country. The police are on high alert for terrorism and other threats. This time, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot, but no yakuza would cause an incident in the midst of such a major event.

He also stated.

However, he also mentioned the disturbing prospect that “after the election is over, they may start moving again .”

A senior official of a designated crime syndicate, who is different from the aforementioned senior official, who has been monitoring the situation of the split war, said, “If there is a cut-off or something like that, it will be a big problem for Kobe.

It is certain that the number of members of the Kobe Yamaguchigumi is decreasing due to cut-offs and so on. However, it is probably because of their strong loyalty that they are following the gang leader Inoue without quitting even now. Many of them are in prison for Kobe Yamaguchigumi. Considering this, it would not be easy to say, ‘I will dissolve the gang and retire.'”

He also expressed his view that the Kobe Gumi is not going to simply dissolve and retire. (Honorifics omitted)

  • Interview and text by Masahiro Ojima

    Nonfiction writer. After working for Sankei Shimbun in the National Police Agency Press Club, Metropolitan Police Department Cap, Kanagawa Prefectural Police Cap, Judicial Press Club, and National Tax Agency Press Club, he went freelance. His most recent book is "The True Story of the Yamaguchigumi Split" (Bungeishunju).

  • Photography Shinji Hamasaki

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