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Yamaguchi-gumi poised to split

Shinobu Tsukasa (center)
Shinobu Tsukasa (center)

KOBE (TR) – After a century in operation, Japan’s largest organized crime group is planning to split, a move that has law enforcement officials on edge, reports Fuji News Network (Aug. 27).

The Kobe-based Yamaguchi-gumi will splinter into one faction of gangs that supports current top boss Shinobu Tsukasa, 73, and another that opposes him.

Approximately 20 affiliate gangs support Tsukasa, who is also known as Kenichi Shinoda. The dissenting gangs include the Yamaken-gumi, the Takumi-gumi and Kyoyu-kai.

In 1915, former fisherman Harukichi Yamaguchi founded the organization, which including affiliate gangs has a current membership of 23,400, according to the National Police Agency. The gang operates in 44 of Japan’s 47 administrative districts.

On Thursday morning, a meeting held at the gang’s headquarters in Nada Ward was not attended by upper-level executives from the dissenting gangs.

A police source tells the Sankei Shimbun (Aug. 27) that the dissenting gangs, largely based in the Kansai area, have become frustrated with the managerial emphasis placed on the Nagoya-based Kodo-kai, an affiliate gang co-founded by Tsukasa in 1984.

In 1984, the Ichiwa-kai seceded from within the Yamaguchi-gumi. Over the next five years, disputes between the two gangs resulted in a total of 29 deaths.

Concern among law enforcement is that the proposed realignment of the Yamaguchi-gumi will also very likely result in similar conflicts.