In the early morning hours of a rainy October 9, police were tipped off about an altercation in a business district in Wakayama City.
Officers arriving at the scene at around 1:00 a.m. found Isao Matsushita, the 50-year-old boss of the Kishu Rengo-kai, an affiliate gang of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, lying face-up on a road with head injuries.
He was confirmed dead due to a subarachnoid hemorrhage at a nearby hospital about two hours later.
According to Flash (Nov. 1), police believe the incident is related to an ongoing dispute that developed following last year’s formation of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi as a rival syndicate to the Yamaguchi-gumi.
“Matsushita, another boss and some others had visited a nearby lounge, which has tight ties to a jikisan of the Yamaguchi-gumi,” an investigative source tells the magazine in using the name for an upper-ranking boss beneath the Godfather. “So, when a quarrel erupted over the bill, the manager called the (Yamaguchi-gumi) office.”
About eight Yamaguchi-gumi members quickly arrived at the scene. “Why’d you come here?” one of them demanded. Both groups then exited the premises and a fight broke out.
“They (Yamaguchi-gumi members) dragged Matsushita for about 100 meters while kicking his head,” the investigative source continues. “Once he collapsed, they rode him like a horse and beat him.”
The participants in the brawl fled the scene prior to the arrival of law enforcement. However, police earlier this week arrested Mitsuru Suzuki, 54, and Koji Sakaue, 49, both members of the Kuramoto-gumi, an affiliate gang of the Yamaguchi-gumi, and five other persons on charges of manslaughter.
Suzuki and the other suspects emerged as persons of interest for police after the examination of security camera footage taken in the area.
The Kuramoto-gumi, based in Wakayama City, was once under a Yamaguchi-gumi affiliate gang when it was known by the moniker “Legion of Killers.”
Since the Yamaguchi-gumi split, it has engaged in a turf war with the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi that has included shootings and car ramming incidents. Flash wonders whether the incident in Wakayama portends renewed rounds of violence.
Source: “Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi-kei kanbu ‘Bokusatsu!’ no shuraba,” Flash (Nov. 1, pages 18-19)