TOKYO (TR) – The Japanese government on Wednesday issued an order demanding the return of the passports of suspects alleged to have participated in the beating death of 31-year-old restaurant manager Ryosuke Fujimoto, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Dec. 19).
On December 6, arrest warrants were issued for 15 suspects on charges of assembly with dangerous weapons over the incident that took place in September at club Flower in the Roppongi entertainment area.
Following the assault, police said that targets of the investigation were believed to have fled Japan for Shanghai, Beijing, and Hawaii.
With the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working to determine the whereabouts of seven suspects and issued the order demanding the return of those passports. According to the Sankei, the suspects falling under the decree are between 23 and 33 years of age and include former members of the bosozoku motorcycle gang Kanto Rengo.
If the passports are not returned by January 23, 2013, the suspects will be deemed to be illegally overstaying their visas and subject to deportation.
In the early morning hours of September 2, a group of males in ski masks and armed with metal bats arrived at the club and assaulted Fujimoto, who was drinking in Flower’s VIP room with a party of five or six persons. The victim suffered substantial head injuries and was transported to a nearby hospital, where he died an hour and 20 minutes later.
Footage released by police shows nine men, many in dark jackets and pants, moving toward Flower at 3:40 a.m. The suspects are seen fleeing the scene in two vans at 3:45 a.m.
On December 9, two members of Kanto Rengo turned themselves over to police authorities. One of the two males arriving at police headquarters was among the 15 suspects issued a warrant.
Widespread speculation in the Japanese press has linked former members of Kanto Rengo to the attack.
The Kanto Rengo group broke up about 15 years ago but their members still operate in various forms. One former leader, Taichi Ishimoto, was arrested in September for fraud. The 30-year-old was also a participant in a drunken brawl involving kabuki star Ichikawa Ebizo in 2010.