The Roppongi club Studio Gate opened for business on September 21. While the action was light at 10 p.m., when the doors opened, by midnight, the hall was packed. The adjacent VIP sections could be seen filling up as tanned men in suits and women in one piece outfits sat on a black leather sofa drinking champagne.
The club was formerly known as Flower. Earlier that month, 31-year-old restaurant owner Ryosuke Fujimoto was beaten to death by a gang of thugs. The club had been shut ever since, and thus far no arrests have been made by the police, with whom the club’s owner is no stranger, reports Friday (Oct. 12).
To recap, early on September 2, a group of men in ski masks and armed with metal bats arrived at Flower and assaulted Fujimoto, who was drinking in the club’s VIP room with a party of five or six persons. The 31-year-old suffered substantial head injuries and was transported to a nearby hospital, where he died one hour and 20 minutes later.
Footage released by police shows nine men, many in dark jackets and pants, moving toward Flower at 3:40 a.m. The suspects are seen fleeing the scene in two vans at 3:45 a.m.
In the 19 days since the incident, the interior of the club was renovated. “They remodeled the walls around the lockers near the entrance as well as the VIP section,” says a Flower regular. “They also changed the carpet that had the bloodstain from Fujimoto. But the furniture and most of the interior remained the same. A staff member said the work cost about one million yen.”
Friday’s reporter notes that the VIP section does not have visible divider from the dance floor, noting that it is remarkable that such a brutal beating could be carried out in the presence of 300 clubgoers.
Another surprise is how management decided to reopen the venue within such a short period and while the incident is still under investigation. Friday quotes an acquaintance of one of the owners, who says, “He was friends with Fujimoto, but he was also telling staff members that reopening under a different name is crucial in eliminating the image that the club is dangerous.”
That owner, who is also in the real estate business and known for dealing drugs, has had trouble with the authorities in the past. “He was arrested in March of last year for smuggling speed and fake currency from North Korea to China,” says an organized crime member. “He got tricked by some of his real estate competitors into carrying highly refined counterfeit currencies and drugs from the North in an attempt to make easy money.”
The same source says that he does not have an extravagant nature, which is intentional. “He rarely shows up at the clubs he manages,” says the gangster. “So he doesn’t provide opportunities for law enforcement to bust him for his drug rackets. He has strong pipelines with celebrities who want to purchase speed on a confidential basis.”
Yet the police may have found an angle. On October 1, Studio Gate was busted for allowing dancing after 1 a.m. — a violation of the the Law Regulating Adult Entertainment Businesses. Eight employees were taken into custody.
Meanwhile, recent news reports indicate that the police believe many of the suspects who participated in the beating of Fujimoto fled Japan for China or Hawaii. (A.T.)
Source: “Mo saikai shita ryuketsu no VIP seki to keieisha no maruhi kako,” Friday (Oct. 12)