Fukuoka starts new anti-gang campaign

The anti-gang emblem
The anti-gang emblem
TOKYO (TR) – A new anti-gang emblem intended for restaurants and bars is the latest measure by authorities in Fukuoka Prefecture in their ongoing battle with criminal organizations, reports the Mainichi Shimbun (Aug. 1).

The establishments began posting the blue and gold B5-sized (176 mm x 250 mm) sign, which clearly stipulates that members of organized crime are not allowed inside, at the fronts of their properties on August 1. Similar methods were undertaken in Kumamoto Prefecture, just to the south, in July of last year.

On July 20, authorities from the Fukuoka prefectural police began explaining the details of the mandate to various businesses in the area. Of the 4,797 businesses in seven key districts of the prefecture, 3,776 (or 78.7 percent) had agreed to cooperate. Gangsters who disobey the order shall be subject to punishment.

“The system provides a sense of relief,” says one bar owner in the Nakasu entertainment district.

The Maichichi Shimbun also reports that on July 31 a meeting was held by 100 business representatives of Chuo Ward, which has approximately 800 bars and “snack clubs,” to implement a similar system. Specifically, the group intends to fight back against extortion — specifically termed mikajimeryo, or the collection of protection money on the third day of each month.

“It will be a chance to cut relations with organized crime,” says a representative of the Fukuoka prefectural police. “Customers will be able to choose restaurants that do not deal with gangsters.”

Hirofumi Ichise, the head of the anti-organized crime division of the Fukuoka prefectural police, explains, “I want to go move forward, utilizing this system as a spark.”

Fukuoka has been a hotbed of trouble with gangs in the recent past. In April, organized crime was suspected in the shooting of a former a former detective with the Fukuoka prefectural police. Three months earlier, the head of a construction company was shot in front of his office in Nakama City, Fukuoka. Offices of the Kudo-kai organized crime group were searched following the incident.

Some shopkeepers wonder are worried about retaliation from gangs should they participate in the new system. “Clubs that cooperated with other anti-gang measures have been attacked in the past,” says an employee at a Kita Kyushu restaurant. “Some shops wonder whether the police are capable of providing suitable protection.”

Revelations last month that a Fukuoka prefectural police inspector was arrested for receiving bribes from organized crime groups has not instilled confidence. Toshio Nakamura, 49, admitted to receiving 100,000 yen from gangsters in exchange for information. He is also suspected to have received an additional 200,000 yen for providing details of a police raid in advance.

Katsuyoshi Aoyagi, the chief of the Chuo Police Station, expressed disappointment regarding the scandal. “We all had made such a great effort to expel organized crime,” he said.

The Chuo group’s chief will not hold back efforts in spite of the revealed corruption. “Under a good and pure conscience, I demand a vigorous push forward,” the chief said.

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