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Yamaguchi-gumi #3 boss to leave

Hirofumi Hashimoto visiting the grave of Yoshinori Watanabe on Tuesday
Hirofumi Hashimoto visiting the grave of Yoshinori Watanabe on Tuesday

HYOGO (TR) – For the Yamaguchi-gumi, the hits just keep on coming.

Investigative sources revealed on Wednesday that upper-level member Hirofumi Hashimoto, 68, will depart the Kobe-based gang in yet another blow to Japan’s largest organized crime group, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Dec. 3).

Hashimoto, who is the head of the Osaka-based Kyokushin Rengo-kai, is the third-ranking under boss — known as wakagashira — to succeed Shinobu Tsukasa as the Yamaguchi-gumi’s next Godfather.

Hashimoto was in attendance along with other upper members on Tuesday when Tsukasa visited the grave of Yoshinori Watanabe, the gang’s fifth Godfather, on the third anniversary of his death. However, Hashimoto did not return to the gang’s compound in Nada Ward after the ceremony.

On the following day, upper-level members then called an emergency meeting that was not attended by Hashimoto.

Investigative sources believe Hashimoto’s move is connected to events that took place over the summer. In September, a power struggle lead to the Yamaguchi-gumi’s dissolution and the formation of a rival syndicate, the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi.

Law enforcement has since raided the headquarters of a number of affiliate gangs of the Yamaguchi-gumi in search of intelligence related to the possible future direction of the gang.

Investigative sources suspect that Hashimoto’s departure from the Yamaguchi-gumi means that lower members of the Kyokushin Rengo-kai will also be leaving.