AKITA (TR) – As a part of nationwide push to reduce the power of the Yamaguchi-gumi organized crime group, Akita Prefectural Police on Monday announced the arrest of a former gang boss for blackmailing businesses in a red-light district, reports public broadcaster NHK (April 6).
Officers took Shuichi Kaneda, the 60-year-old former head of the Kaneda-gumi, a group that falls under the Yamaguchi-gumi’s Kodo-kai organization, and two others into custody for forcing businesses in the Omachi-Kawabata area into buying 200 items over a two-year period.
In one case, a restaurant manager was coerced into purchasing ornaments and plates featuring imagery from the Chinese zodiac for a total of 90,000 yen in November of 2012 and November of 2013.
In a separate case, police applied fraud charges to Akimasa Ito, 45, the current Kaneda-gumi top boss. The suspect is accused of concealing his gang membership in obtaining a lease contract with a credit company.
The Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest gang, has been using the Kodo-kai to expand its influence in areas beyond its home base of Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture. A nationwide crackdown against the Kodo-kai, which is based in Nagoya, began six years ago.
Evening patrols by police officers in the Omachi-Kawabata area are intended to provided peace of mind for merchants, particularly when it comes to the paying of mikajimeryo, or protection money, according to the Sankei Shimbun (April 6).
“With the arrests of Kaneda-gumi members, (businesses) need not comply with extortion demands,” said a representative of the prefectural police.