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Police brace for further upheavals within Yamaguchi-gumi in New Year

Shinobu Tsukasa
Shinobu Tsukasa

KOBE (TR) – After perhaps the most challenging year in its century-long history, more trouble may await the Yamaguchi-gumi, reports Yukan Fuji (Jan. 5).

Following the departure of key affiliates from Japan’s largest gang, investigative sources with the Hyogo Prefectural Police are bracing for more turmoil.

Shinobu Tsukasa, the current Godfather of the gang, will host a New Year’s party at the Kobe-based gang’s compound on his 74th birthday, which is January 25.

“There is a possibility that we’ll see a shake-up in the organization’s structure at the event,” says an investigative source, referring to the annual party attended by the top bosses in the gang.

Any “shake-up” could be a means of shoring up forces following a challenging past few months for the Yamaguchi-gumi, which was founded in 1915 by former fisherman Harukichi Yamaguchi as a union for dockworkers.

In September, 13 affiliate gangs bolted to form a rival, the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi. The loss of allies continued thereafter.

Since the split, the total number of top bosses in the Yamaguchi-gumi has fallen from more than 70 to 55. Meanwhile, the number of affiliate gangs tied to the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi has risen from the initial 13 to 20.

Fears of conflicts between the two gangs has caused law enforcement to be on constant alert. As a result, some of the Yamaguchi-gumi’s activities have been halted, notably a Halloween party and a mochitsuki event, in which rice cakes are made with a wood mallet.

Early on January 1, Tsukasa was accompanied by 40 police officers as he paid a visit Gokoku Shrine, located near the gang’s headquarters in Nada Ward, to welcome the New Year.