KOBE (TR) – Perhaps the most challenging year in the century-long history of the Yamaguchi-gumi has — finally — come to a close.
At just after midnight, Tsukasa, who is also known as Kenichi Shinoda, arrived at the shrine’s grounds. During most visits, the boss makes a point of lining up with the general public. But this year was different.
According to Nippon News Network (Jan. 1), Tsukasa, attired in a robe, used a special path to reach the shrine as approximately 40 officers from the Hyogo Prefectural Police stood watch. He left 10 minutes later.
The police presence is a reflection of recent problems facing the gang, which was founded in 1915 by former fisherman Harukichi Yamaguchi as a union for dockworkers.
In September, 13 affiliate gangs bolted from the Yamaguchi-gumi to form a rival, the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi. The loss of allies continued thereafter. Since the split, the total number of top bosses in the Yamaguchi-gumi has fallen from 72 to 55.
Fears of violence with the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi has caused law enforcement to increase its watch over the gang. As a result, some of its activities have been halted, notably a Halloween party for children in October and a mochitsuki event, in which rice cakes are made with a wood mallet, scheduled for December.