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Sunday, August 28, 2005

Yakuza War Feared

ヤクザ

yakuza-movie-bookThe recent ascension of Kenichi Shimoda as oyabun (親分), or Godfather, to Japan’s largest organized crime group has police and government authorities fearing open warfare among rival yakuza groups.

Shimoda takes over leadership of the Kobe-based Yamaguchi-gumi from the more diplomatic Yoshinori Watanabe. Under Watanabe, the most powerful domestic yakuza group has in the last ten years aggressively expanded its influence eastward into Tokyo. The mob in the capital, primarily the Inagawa-kai and Sumiyoshi-kai, has reacted with alacrity and violence in attempts to protect its turf.

With a total membership of 39,200, according to the Yomiuri Shinbun, the Yamaguchi-gumi now has 55 offices in Tokyo and at least 900 gangsters based there. Watanabe, who spearheaded the move into Tokyo, maintained cordial relations with Kakuji Inagawa, the late leader of the Inagawa-kai.

With the two men now out of the picture, the Metropolitan Police Department is worried about a spike in violence. Moreover, according to journalist Atsushi Mizoguchi, unlike Watanabe, Shinoda will not hesitate to “spill blood if that’s what it takes to bring back power to Yamaguchi.”

Yakuza Movie Book

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