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Thailand: Japanese fraud suspect ‘forced by yakuza’

THAILAND (TR) – Police in Bangkok have apprehended a male Japanese national wanted in Japan for fraud, a crime the suspect said he was forced to commit by a member of a criminal syndicate, reports TV Asahi (Apr. 2).

On March 29, police working off a tip arrested Kazunari Hashimoto, from Mie Prefecture, at a residence in Bangkok for illegally overstaying his visa.

Nara Prefectural Police had been seeking Hashimoto over the alleged defrauding of 8 million yen from a 75-year-old woman in July, 2013. In carrying out the ruse, a member of the ring posed as an employee from the Japan Banker’s Association while collecting the funds.

In speaking with reporters in Bangkok, Hashimoto apologized while adding that he was reflecting upon his actions. “I was forced to support the crime by an elder who is a member of the yakuza,” Hashimoto said.

Kazunari Hashimoto
Kazunari Hashimoto (Twitter)

Prior to Hashimoto’s apprehension, Nara police communicated with law enforcement in Bangkok. The fraud ring, which also operated in Shimane, Tottori and Kochi prefectures, included seven members. They are believed to have swindled four victims out of 28 million yen, police said.

Police have arrested five other members of the ring. The whereabouts of the seventh member are still sought.

Hashimoto added that he did not flee to Thailand after carrying out the crime. “That was not my intention,” he said. “I wanted to open a rice cakes shop.”