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Gang infighting results in second yakuza shooting in Tokyo

Shukan Asahi Geino Sept. 18
Shukan Asahi Geino Sept. 18

On the evening of August 30, officers from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police arrested Michio Yamamura, a 65-year-old member of the Sumiyoshi-kai organized crime group, for possessing a handgun and ammunition in Taito Ward’s Asakusa district.

Five hours before, an assailant had fired one shot into an office of the same gang that struck and wounded a 48-year-old boss in the left part of his chest.

Officers patrolling the area after the shooting spotted Yamamura walking in the street. During questioning, the weapon and ammunition were discovered. The suspect is also alleged to have bit the thigh of one officer.

This is the second shooting incident in Tokyo involving yakuza members within the last 10 days, and, reports Shukan Asahi Geino (Sept. 18), the motive appears to be bad blood within the gang.

“This particular Sumiyoshi-kai office was founded by the brother of film star Masaki Hamamoto,” says a journalist who covers organinzed crime. “It is well-known for being a traditional organization within the Sumiyoshi-kai.”

The magazine says that since the shooting took place inside the building neighbors remained unaware that anything had happened.

“All of a sudden, the front door swung open and there was a shot,” said the gang boss, whose injuries are not considered life threatening. “I don’t know who did it.”

A reporter for a local newspaper tells Shukan Asahi Geino that Yamamura is the prime suspect in the case.

“He is an executive who supports the chairman (of that Sumiyoshi-kai office),” says the reporter. “So he shot his boss, his own ‘flesh and blood.'”

An investigator says that the motive was a dispute over the gang’s organizational structure.

“At the beginning of the year, the chairman in place at the time passed away,” says the investigator. “He was replaced by the current chairman, who Yamamura might have thought was beneath him (in the rankings). So he thought he got leapfrogged.”

The incident followed a shooting involving gang members nine days before. On the morning of August 21, a quarrel erupted inside a coffee shop in the Nishi Koiwa district of Edogawa Ward among five customers, all of whom were believed to be members of the Sumiyoshi-kai and Yamaguchi-gumi. During the dispute, two gunshots were heard by employees of the shop.

Police arriving at the scene afterward discovered two shell casings and three bloodstains. Thus far, investigators do not believe there is a connection between the two incidents.

But the aforementioned investigator tells the magazine that precautions are being taken in Asakusa.

“We are exercising vigilance in preventing an internal battle,” the source says.

Source: “Sumiyoshi-kai kei jimusho de kumi-cho wo utta no ha soko kanbu datta!” Shukan Asahi Geino (Sept. 18, page 181)