Thursday, February 15, 2007

Yakuza suicide

A head of the Japanese Mafia takes off his life in Tokyo.
A war between groups had reopened in the last weeks.
Jordi Juste.
The head of an important group of the yakuza, the Japanese Mafia, was found dead yesterday morning in his house in Tokyo, in what seems to be a suicide. Kazuyoshi Kudo (70) was the leader of the Kokusui-kai, the gang representing in Tokyo the Yamaguchi-gumi, the second largest criminal organization in Japan, based in Kobe, in the west of the country. In the last months, the Yamaguchi-gumi has been involved in diverse incidents with its main rival, the Sumiyoshi-kai, for the control of the capital.
The yakuza war had its algid point on February 5, with the murder, by shooting at ten in the morning in a street in central Tokyo, of Ryoichi Sugiura (43), head of the Kobayashi-kai, affiliated with the Sumiyoshi-kai. During last week, several shootings between members of the rival organizations followed in Tokyo. Nevertheless, in the last several informations pointed to an agreement to end the hostilities, initiated for the control of the illegal activities in the district of Roppongi, one of the main entertainment districts in the capital.
According to the daily Asahi Shimbun, last Thursday, leaders of the Yamaguchi-gumi and the Sumiyoshi-kai met to clarify the terms of the distribution of the protection business in Roppongi. "The original agreement established monthly payments of a percentage of the benefits to the Kokusui-kai, but recently single slum sum payments were made, only during the traditional gift seasons, in summer and year end", a police source explained in the Asahi Shimbun.
In their meeting with the Sumiyoshi-kai, the heads of the Yamaguchi-gumi would have admitted the responsibility of their affiliated in the murder of Sugiura and accepted to pay an indemnification. Yesterday’s suicide could be part of the agreement between gangs of criminals or an act of assumption of responabilidad on the part of the head of the Kobayashi-kai before its bosses in the Yamaguchi-gumi. The yakuza groups have a very strong internal discipline and often display their fidelity and contrition with sacrifices like the severing of fingers.
Until recently, the Yamaguchi-gumi had stayed in its stronghold in West Japan, but in 2005 it reached an agreement of affiliation with the Kokusai-kai and began to demand a greater part of the income from criminal activities in Tokyo, as well as more regular payments. On the other hand, the Sumiyoshi-kai and other groups based in the capital see with great distrust the attempts of the Yamaguchi-gumi to settle down in their region.

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