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Yamaguchi-gumi boss joins Facebook?

Shukan Asahi July 25
Shukan Asahi July 25

Earlier this year, a number of news outlets covered last year’s launch of a Web site for the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest organized crime group.

The site Zenkoku Mayaku Bokumetsu Domei (Nationwide Union to Ban Narcotic Drugs), which has since been removed, expanded on the mandate of the Yamaguchi-gumi’s third Godfather Kazuo Taoka, who “held the strong belief that narcotic drugs should be eliminated from society.”

Now, reports Shukan Asahi (July 25), the gang may be further heading into the digital age with what might be the opening of a Facebook account by top-boss Shinobu Tsukasa.

An account for Tsukasa, 72, whose real name is Kenichi Shinoda, was established in September of last year under the Japanese rendering of his name (司忍).

To the surprise of Shukan Asahi, the account has been used to converse with ordinary citizens.

“I happened upon his account and sent a ‘friend’ request,” says a man in his 40s. “Soon after our friendship was confirmed, I received a ‘like’ from him. At that point, the boss had around 50 ‘friends,’ but after two or three weeks he had about 600.”

The account for Tsukasa received a number of public messages, such as: “Boss, thank you for your acknowledgement.” But not once has the Godfather himself posted a comment of any kind.

Screen shot of Tsukasa's alleged account before it was removed
A screen shot of Tsukasa’s alleged account before it was removed

Certainly, readers must be wondering: Is the account real?

“For a famous person, if there is a complaint about the authenticity of an account, it will be suspended quickly,” says an employee in the IT industry. “So given that more than six months have passed it is possible that it is real. At least, that cannot be ruled out.”

However, a journalist who covers the underworld is skeptical.

“Several years ago, the Yamaguchi-gumi lodged a complaint with a merchant selling cigarette lighters and ashtrays bearing their symbol on the Internet,” says the journalist. “If it is not a money-making venture, they will not bother. So they won’t touch these kinds of simple pranks.”

When contacted by Shukan Asahi, a representative of the Yamaguchi-gumi refused to comment on the authenticity of the account.

Three days later, the account was removed.

Source: “Feisubukku ni hishi no yo mon ga Yamaguchi-gumi kumi-cho akaunto no shingan,” Shukan Asahi (July 25)