“You talk about vengeance. Is vengeance going to bring your son back to you? Or my boy to me?” — Don Corleone, “The Godfather.”
On the morning of May 31, Tadashi Takagi, a 55-year-old executive of an affiliate gang of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, was shot in the chest and abdomen in a parking lot of an apartment building in Okayama City.
Takagi was transported to a nearby hospital in critical condition. He was confirmed dead about one hour after arrival.
Surveillance footage taken in the area just before the incident showed a suspicious man on a motorbike wearing a helmet that covered his face. Five days later, Hideyuki Yamamoto, a 32-year-old member of the Kodo-kai, an affiliate gang of the Yamaguchi-gumi, turned himself over to police. He was subsequently prosecuted on charges of murder.
“This is no longer a truce,” a gangster based in the Kanto area tells the tabloid.
Last year, 13 gangs defected from within the Yamaguchi-gumi to form the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi as a rival syndicate. Since then, a number of shooting and car-ramming incidents involving the two gangs have taken place across the nation.
The Ikeda-gumi was one of the renegade gangs that defected to the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi. The head of the gang is 71-year-old Takashi Ikeda, who is known as the “money man” due to his financial influence.
“There have been a number of shootings at gang offices but this time an executive directly subordinate to the top was killed,” says a Tokyo-based gangster. “We can expect to see payback on the part of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi.”
It was widely reported that the Yamaguchi-gumi and Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi told their affiliate gangs to not cause trouble — something of a cease-fire that amounted to a temporary “silence” — until the end of the Ise-Shima G7 Summit in Mie Prefecture. The two-day summit concluded on May 27.
According to the magazine, the Yamaguchi-gumi used the time during the Summit to broker a mediation. At the end of May, the gang’s Godfather, Shinobu Tsukasa, 73, visited Tokyo. The following day, two upper-level executive visited the home of a top boss of a major gang.
Among the items on the table, according to the aforementioned Kanto gang member, were that number-two boss, Kiyoshi Takayama, 68, would retire and Kunio Inoue, the 67-year-old top boss of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, would return to the Yamaguchi-gumi. (Inoue’s gang, the Yamaken-gumi, was among those that spearheaded the effort to form the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi.)
“The real intention of these gangs does not include things like firing guns at one another, but that scenario is impossible,” a journalist covering organized crime comments on the rumored resolution. “In going against the excommunication order (for the Yamaken-gumi), the Yamaguchi-gumi would lose its honor.”
However, the shooting in Okayama appears to have changed that, with tensions on both sides growing — which is leading to speculation about whether someone important might get bumped off.
“If negotiations break down, Inoue wouldn’t become a target,” says a gang member in Osaka. “Rather, the aim would be an executive near the level of Inoue or a young person who has management responsibilities.”
Indeed, speculation is all over the map but for law enforcement there is one certainty: A resolution is not a realistic outcome. An investigative source says that neither side wishes to compromise regarding taking responsibility for the dissolution of the Yamaguchi-gumi last year. “From the beginning, a settlement was never possible,” the source says.
Flash suspects that the second act has just begun.
Source: “Yamaguchigumi koso wakai o tsubushita 4-patsu no kyodan,” Flash (June 21, pages 13-15)
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