Mitsuru Suzuki, 54, and Koji Sakaue, 49, both members of the Kuramoto-gumi, and five other persons have been charged with manslaughter in the beating death of Isao Matsushita, the 50-year-old head of the Kishu Rengo-kai, an affiliate gang of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi.
At approximately 1:00 a.m. on October 9, police were tipped off about an altercation near a restaurant in the Kitanoshinchi Fundocho area. Officers arriving at the scene found Matsushita lying face-up on the ground with head injuries. He was confirmed dead at a nearby hospital about two hours later.
Prior to the incident, Matsushita arrived at the restaurant with about four other persons. Upon entering, the group got into an argument with another group. A fight began after both groups exited the premises onto the street.
The participants in the brawl fled the scene prior to the arrival of police.
Suzuki and the other suspects emerged as persons of interest for police after the examination of security camera footage taken in the area.
Last year, 13 affiliate gangs left the Yamaguchi-gumi and formed the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi as a rival syndicate. Police suspect that the incident in Wakayama is connected to the split, according to the Sankei Shimbun (Oct. 27).