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Yamaguchi-gumi headquarters raided over Osaka golf arrests

Jiro Watanabe
Jiro Watanabe

TOKYO (TR) – Osaka prefectural police on Monday raided the headquarters of Japan’s largest gang, the Yamaguchi-gumi, over fraud connected to an incident in which gang members gained access to a golf course over one year ago, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Dec. 3).

On November 30, officers took Hirofumi Hashimoto (whose real name is Hirofumi Kyo), 65, a senior Yamaguchi-gumi gangster from within the Kyokushin Rengo-kai affiliate group, former boxing champion Jiro Watanabe, 57, a member of the same group, and another member into custody for concealing their underworld identities in order to gain access to a golf course in Osaka in March of 2011.

The golf course in question does not allow organized crime members to use its facilities. Laws also prohibit gangsters from concealing the fact that they are members of crime syndicates.

At 10 a.m., officers approached the gates of the gang’s compound in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture and entered to search the premises for evidence related to the suspects.

According to investigators, Hashimoto, who is the number-four member of the gang, has not commented on the allegations, and Watanabe, who over a 16-year boxing career held two titles in the super flyweight class, denies that he is a Yamaguchi-gumi member.

Hashimoto is known for maintaining friendly ties with former television personality Shinsuke Shimada, 56, who abruptly retired from the industry in August of last year.

Shimada cited an exchange of e-mails with an upper member of the Yamaguchi-gumi over a two-year period as the reason for his retirement. That member is likely to have been Hashimoto.

Watanabe had been previously arrested on weapons and blackmail charges.