Last week’s beating death of restaurant manager Ryosuke Fujimoto in Tokyo’s Roppongi entertainment district was over non-repayment of a business loan, reports Friday (Sep. 21).
Early on September 2, a group of men in ski masks and armed with metal bats arrived at club Flower and assaulted Fujimoto, who was drinking in the club’s VIP room with a party of five or six persons. The 31-year-old suffered substantial head injuries and was transported to a nearby hospital, where he died an hour and 20 minutes later.
Footage released by police shows nine men, many in dark jackets and pants, moving toward Flower at 3:40 a.m. The suspects are seen fleeing the scene in two vans at 3:45 a.m.
Fujimoto, who was of Korean descent, operated a number of bars and restaurants in Tokyo, with his first being in Koenji. According to a younger friend, he also opened a “girl’s yakiniku (grilled beef)” restaurant called Meushi in the Shibuya entertainment district in June of last year. “Cute female waitresses showing a bit of skin serve high-quality meat,” says the acquaintance.
Shukan Asahi (Sep. 21) says that Fujimoto also had a stake in roughly 20 other restaurants in the Shimokitazawa and Shibuya areas.
Fujimoto lived in Nakano Ward and drove a black Lexus, which he parked in a lot near his apartment. “One time, I returned a wallet I found on the lot to the management office,” says the lot’s owner. “Fujimoto (the wallet’s owner) thanked me by giving me a box of sweets. Even though he had a lot of tattoos and was strongly built, he came off as a very friendly person who smiles and has good manners.”
Meushi proved popular, but its existence was due to a loan from a questionable source. “He appears to have borrowed a lot of money from a person affiliated with organized crime,” says a person familiar with the matter. “However, after one year, he hadn’t repaid the loan and was living a nice life.”
As a result, a non-gangster organization — specially referred to as furyoshudan, or “undesirable group” — was hired to attack Fujimoto, says the same Friday source, who does not name the group.
Shukan Asahi believes that the lender was not only a former gang member but also originally a member of the bosozoku biker gang Kanto Rengo, and that the hit was hired out to another bosozoku group called Dragon, an affiliate group of Kanto Rengo whose core membership is comprised of second- and third-generation returnees from China who came to Japan after the end of World War II.
Kanto Rengo was famously involved in the drunken rampage of Mongolian-born former sumo yokozuna Asashoryu that occurred in January of 2010. In December of that same year, Kanto Rengo member Rion Ito was arrested following an altercation with kabuki star Ebizo Ichikawa.
“The group seems to have a reputation for dealing in drugs,” Friday’s source continues, referring to Kanto Rengo. “Two years ago, this group got mixed up in trouble at Flower. They wound up blackmailing the club for leverage.”
The benefit was access to the VIP room and knowledge of the emergency exit, which allowed the suspects to avoid having to enter the premises at the guarded main entrance. “It shows that they had inside information,” says the same source.
Shukan Asahi offers another possible reason for the attack. “In 2008, a Kanto Rengo member of Korean descent was assaulted and killed by a group in Shinjuku,” says a person with knowledge of dealings in the underworld. “An organized crime group manages a particular drug route, and this guy attempted to muscle in on the action. Since Fujimoto was also of Korean descent, there are rumors going around that he attempted to participate in a similar way as well.”
Source: “Roppongi kurabu shugeki ‘medashibo satsujin shudan no shotai,'” Friday (Sep. 21)