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Yamaguchi-gumi members to bond while boss serves prison term

Kiyoshi Takayama of the Yamaguchi-gumi (Twitter)

HYOGO (TR) – The Osaka High Court in February found the number-two boss of the Yamaguchi-gumi, Kiyoshi Takayama, 66, in an appeal to be complicit in the extortion of a construction industry employee in 2005 and 2006.

On Tuesday, the Osaka High District Public Prosecutor’s Office sentenced Takayama to six years in prison — a decree that is certain to rattle Japan’s largest organized crime group, reports the Kobe Shimbun (June 25).

“The power balance between the internal operations of the Yamaguchi-gumi and that of their affiliate groups will likely change,” an investigative source tells the newspaper.

While top-boss Kenichi Shinoda was imprisoned between 2005 and 2011 for gun possession, Takayama, presided over the Kobe-based gang, which has roughly 27,700 members.

During that period, Takayama, who also serves as chairman of the Kodo-kai, a secondary organization of the Yamaguchi-gumi, ruled with an iron fist, firing numerous bosses who opposed his leadership. After Shinoda was released from prison in April of 2011, Takayama maintained a strong position and adhered to a confrontational attitude towards law enforcement with regards to controlling information.

In the wake of dwindling revenue due to the passage of anti-gang laws whereby top bosses are being held responsible during legal proceedings, Takayama issued a mandate that cordial relations with other organized crime groups be maintained and conflicts with associated gangs be avoided so as to conserve resources.

In the latest case, Takayama was found guilty of extorting 40 million yen from the employee during meetings at a hotel in Kyoto. He utilized subordinate gang members to perform a specific type of extortion known as mikajimeryo, or the collection of so-called “protection money.”

In March of last year, the Kyoto District Court handed down a prison sentence of six years to Takayama.

In the appeal, fellow gang members stated that Takayama had requested that they “work together” during a gathering at a restaurant in Kyoto in October of 2005. The blackmail plot was carried out thereafter.

Takayama maintained his innocence in both trials. Plans for an appeal to the Supreme Court were cancelled.

At a recent meeting held among Yamaguchi-gumi members and affiliate gangsters, it was agreed that the participants would come together in a “relationship of coexistence.”

“He [Takayama] wants to finish the prison sentence early, with the aim being to get back into the real world as soon as possible,” an investigator tells the Kobe Shimbun.