Early Morning Attack and Room Destruction — Gangster Writer Experiences: “The Shivering Reality of the Yakuza” | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Early Morning Attack and Room Destruction — Gangster Writer Experiences: “The Shivering Reality of the Yakuza”

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Mr. Suzuki has been covering gangs for nearly 30 years.

It was early in the morning, when I was sleepwalking.

Someone pounded on the front door. When I opened the door, three men suddenly entered. They looked like rappers, wearing sunglasses and baseball caps. They proceeded to knock down everything in the room from one side to the other. They even destroyed a computer on a desk until it was disabled again. After ravaging the interior, the men left silently without a word. It was only a matter of minutes–and then they were gone.

The person who experienced this horrifying experience was Tomohiko Suzuki, 55, a freelance journalist who mainly covers gangs. Mr. Suzuki recalls the circumstances of the trouble.

It was in the late 1990s, when I was just starting out as a writer. I had rented a room in an apartment in Kabukicho (Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo) as a place of work in addition to my home, and the attack by three men was something I had not expected, and I watched in dismay as the room was destroyed.

One factor that comes to mind as to why I was attacked was an article I had published in a mook book about designated gangs. It was a manuscript I had written on the theme of “strong and weak,” and I guess the gangs, who value their reputation, could not tolerate being judged as “strong” or “weak. I think it was retaliation for the article. But since the men did not identify themselves, I don’t know the real cause.

Young men covered in blood were sitting on the floor next to the chit-chat.

Mr. Suzuki, feeling that he was in danger, immediately filed a damage report with the police. He temporarily evacuated to Osaka, relying on a gang leader he knew.

I didn’t ask him to go, but he said, ‘I’ll go talk to him. I don’t know where he went. The gang leader’s condition was that I withdraw the damage report. I did as he asked and nothing untoward happened after that.

According to Mr. Suzuki, it is rare to be directly harmed while covering a gang. He was attacked only once, as mentioned above. However, he has often been “made an example of.

One time I was summoned to a gang office. We talked in the office at a chatty level, but the atmosphere was bizarre. A young man was made to sit on his knees in front of me, and he was nodding his head the whole time. His face was battered and swollen and covered in blood. He was the gang member who provided me with the information. I guess he was just making an example of me, saying, ‘If you blabber on and on, that’s what will happen to you.

Suzuki said he often witnessed gang members being hit with large ashtrays and drivers being hit in the head from behind with shoehorns.

What surprised me was that every time there was an election, the secretary of an unknown congressman would visit my workplace. They were asking for help in the election, but they were probably acquaintances of the gangsters I had interviewed. I was amazed at the extent of their network.

What I kept in mind was to appeal that I had no money. Without money, there would be no merit to threaten them, and it would be difficult for them to touch me. Even if the gangsters demanded money as a reward, I made it a point never to pay them.

There is an unspoken rule in covering gangsters not to provoke them. From his own experience, Suzuki says he has learned the secret to working in the yakuza world.

  • Narrator Tomohiko Suzuki

    Born in Hokkaido in 1966. Dropped out of Nihon University College of Art. After working as a freelance photographer, began reporting on the theme of "violence. Former editor-in-chief of Jitsuwa Jidai BULL. Author of many books, including "Sakana to Yakuza" and "Yakuza tokidoki Piano.

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