The manager is seeking 17.35 million yen in repayment and compensation from top boss Shinobu Tsukasa, who is also known as Kenichi Shinoda, for being forced to pay 10.85 million yen between 1998 and 2010.
“This woman showed great courage in standing up (to this injustice),” said the lawyer for the restaurant manager at a press conference. “We would like for this trial to become a curtailment for these activities in the future.”
The funds paid each month were deemed to be for the protection of the business — termed mikajimeryo — and ranged in value from 30,000 to 100,000 yen.
An organized crime group will typically fund its operation through the collection of such money, which is then funneled upward within the gang to elite members, a process known as jonokin.
“The responsibility for aiding the victim lies with the group leader,” said the lawyer in referring to Tsukasa.
In 2008, Matsuyama told the manager that failure to pay the money would result in an arson attack upon the restaurant. He was prosecuted last year on charges of extortion.
Revisions made to the Anti-Organized Crime Law in 2008 allow civilians to seek damages from gang members for harmful incidents in civil court. According to police, there have been 11 claims raised against gangs since the amendment.
Non-fiction writer Atsushi Mizoguchi, who covers Japan’s underworld, believes bringing the topic to the forefront through litigation may have a large impact. “Depending on the direction the trial takes, it is possible that organized crime will take a devastating blow as a result,” he said.