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Japan police nervous over ‘silence’ between feuding yakuza groups

Top bosses: Kunio Inoue of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi and Shinobu Tsukasa of the Yamaguchi-gumi
Top bosses: Kunio Inoue of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi and Shinobu Tsukasa of the Yamaguchi-gumi

TOKYO (TR) – Sunday marked one month since the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi splintered off from the Yamaguchi-gumi and became an organized crime syndicate under the Anti-Organized Crime Law.

Only one incident occurred in that period, but authorities are on edge over tension brewing amid the “silence” being upheld by the rival gangs, both of which are based in Hyogo Prefecture, over their vigilance toward a stipulation in the anti-gang law, reports the Yomiuri Shimbun (May 16).

There were some 75 incidents nationwide since the Yamaguchi-gumi split up last year, from reports of gunfire to the gangs plowing cars into each other’s offices.

But the incidents ground to a halt after the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi was designated an organized crime group on April 15, with the exception of a case on May 2 in which a Yamaguchi-gumi office window was shattered in Asahikawa City, Hokkaido Prefecture.

An investigation official says both groups are particularly anxious over a stipulation in the anti-gang law about “conflict between designated organized crime groups.”

The stipulation can take effect if a string of incidents occur that threaten the livelihood and safety of the public. Gangs would face harsher restrictions in designated zones that fall under the jurisdiction of the National Public Safety Commission, which would have powers like banning the assembly of more than five gang members.

On the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi side, a group of high-ranking members belonging to a watchdog known as the “punishment council” is visiting affiliated groups throughout Japan and instructing them that “retaliation against the Yamaguchi-gumi is forbidden.”

The Yamaguchi-gumi is following suit and ordering members to refrain from taking hasty action every month on occasions like meetings held by top-ranking members.

In light of heightened security ahead of the G7 Summit, scheduled to be held in Ise-Shima, Mie Prefecture on May 26 and 27, both groups are reportedly telling members not to “make any noise.”

Tighter control

This month in Toyama Prefecture, the Takada-gumi, an organization under the Yamaguchi-gumi, was found to have filed a dissolution notice with police. The Yamaguchi-gumi had already disposed of the group with a “zetsuen” permanent excommunication order because it showed intent to join the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi side.

“The organization was relentlessly being pursued by the Yamaguchi-gumi, so they were forced to dissolve after they couldn’t transfer to the Kobe side,” authorities said.

The Yamaguchi-gumi once issued a zetsuen notice to the predecessor boss of a faction that crossed over to the other side.

“It’s a threat. They’re saying that defecting would be the same as smearing mud on the faces of their predecessors,” said a Hyogo Prefectural Police official handling both gangs. “They’re probably bent on reining in their organization.”