Over the past week, Fukuoka Prefectural Police have arrested the two top bosses of the Kudo-kai organized crime group for participation in the murder of a fishery cooperative president in Kitakyushu City more than a decade ago.
Sources tell Shukan Asahi Geino (Sept. 25), however, that this long, twisted tale of violence is likely not over.
On the night of February 18, 1998, Kunihiro Kajiwara (then age 70) was struck by four bullets at point-blank range in the street outside a cabaret club in Kokurakita Ward.
Four years later, a court convicted two members of the Kudo-kai — one the shooter, the other a watchman — for the killing of Kajiwara. However, police said last week that recent investigations have yielded new evidence linking upper management to the crime.
On Saturday, police apprehended Fumio Tanoue, 58, the number-two boss of the Kudo-kai for murder. Two days before, officers arrested 67-year-old top boss Satoru Nomura at his home in Kokurakita on the same charges. (Tanoue was originally arrested in 2002 along with a fourth member of the gang, but he was not indicted.)
The source of trouble is harbor construction work in Wakamatsu Ward, which has been ongoing for the past three decades, a local newspaper reporter tells the magazine.
“As a result, the fishery cooperative has received several billion yen in compensation from general contractors,” says the reporter.
However, negotiations for the rights to construct in the area have not gone smoothly. Probably not coincidentally, members of the Kudo-kai are believed to have participated in a series of violent incidents involving former personnel of the fishery cooperative in recent years.
Last December, Tadayoshi Ueno, 70, then the president of the same cooperative, was shot dead near his residence in Wakamatsu. Ueno was the younger brother of Kajiwara.
“The brothers were the main persons in charge of negotiation for the compensation,” continues the reporter. “But if they thought a deal was suspect they would not cave in, no matter the return, and, as one may imagine, there were a lot of people seeking rights to the harbor.”
Violence believed to be at the hands of the Kudo-kai in Kitakyushu has continued. A 28-year-old dentist, Ueno’s grandson, was stabbed during his commute to work this past May. Two months later, a former employee of the fishery cooperative was stabbed as she returned home from shopping.
In light of the recent arrests, crime writer Manabu Miyazaki tells the magazine that after observing the previous trials of Kudo-kai members he feels law enforcement is grasping at straws.
“It seems that the prosecutors cannot make just one person guilty,” says Miyazaki. “Police pursue cases under the logic that the underlings are operating under the guidance of upper management, as might make sense in a pyramid organization. But that logic is limited.”
The potential failure is that gang members can operate alone, or, at the very least, appear to do such — which very well could have been the case in the murder of Kajiwara.
“I think the prosecutor will fail to find guilt because they won’t be able to get any real evidence,” says Miyazaki.
Source: “Godaime Kudo-kai: Nomura Satoru sosai ga jimoto gyokyo moto kumiai-cho ‘satsujin taiho!’” Shukan Asahi Geino (Sept. 25, page 49)