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Japan police form unit to combat underworld’s ‘state of confrontation’

Bullet holes were found in a wall and window of an office of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi in Ibaraki on Sunday
Bullet holes were found in a wall and window of an office of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi in Ibaraki on Sunday

TOKYO (TR) – The National Police Agency on Monday announced the establishment of a special unit to combat brewing hostilities between two Hyogo Prefecture-based organized crime groups, reports NHK (Mar. 7).

Since February 23, police have responded to 19 incidents, including shootings and assaults, involving members of the Yamaguchi-gumi and its rival, the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, in 14 administrative districts across the nation.

The NPA now acknowledges a “state of confrontation” between the two groups. The new unit will be tasked with mitigating the violence by upping intelligence gathering and implementing crackdowns, according to TV Asahi (Mar. 8).

“Regarding both (gang) groups, we aim to strengthen our clampdown,” said Taro Kono, the chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, according to TBS News (Mar. 8).

Some of the most recent incidents have taken place in Ibaraki, Hokkaido and Tochigi prefectures.

On Sunday morning, police found five bullet holes in an office of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi in Mito City. The day before, police arrested a 40-year-old member of a gang affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi for allegedly ramming a truck into another vehicle parked at the same office.

On Wednesday, police arrested arrested Akira Matsubara, a member of a Yamaguchi-gumi associate, for driving a vehicle into the home of the chairman of a Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi affiliate in Asahikawa City, Hokkaido. About one hour later, a two-ton truck rammed the office of a third-tier Yamaguchi-gumi affiliate in Utsunomiya City, Tochigi.

The Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi formed following the dissolution of the Yamaguchi-gumi last summer. Law enforcement has been on high alert over fears of escalating violence between the two gangs as they battle over turf across the nation.

Such fears are based on precedent. In 1984, the Ichiwa-kai seceded from within the Yamaguchi-gumi. Police attributed 25 deaths and 317 incidents between the two gangs to the dissolution in the years that followed.