Sources tell Shukan Asahi Geino (Sep. 20) that two groups of suspects are surfacing in the beating death of restaurant manager Ryosuke Fujimoto in Tokyo’s Roppongi entertainment district earlier this month.
In the early morning hours of September 2, a group of men in ski masks and armed with metal bats arrived at club 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 an hour and 20 minutes later.
Shukan Asahi Geino finds similarities in the attack on Fujimoto and another incident that took place in 2008. “A 32-year-old male of Korean descent was assaulted and killed by a group in Nishi Shinjuku,” says an investigative source. Similarities between the two attacks include the use of metal bats and masks.
In the Fujimoto incident, 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.
“If this were a yakuza dispute, a gun would be the usual weapon,” says local news reporter. “Yakuza gangs don’t use metal bats — that would be the work of a bosozoku (biker) group.”
The Kanto Rengo bosozoku group was famously involved in the drunken rampage of Mongolian-born former sumo yokozuna Asashoryu that occurred in January of 2010. In December of that same year, Kanto Rengo member Rion Ito was arrested following an altercation with kabuki star Ebizo Ichikawa.
Fujimoto, who was also of Korean descent, operated a number of bars and restaurants in Tokyo, with his first being in Koenji. He also opened a “girl’s yakiniku (grilled beef)” restaurant called Meushi in the Shibuya entertainment area in June of last year.
“Fujimoto used a yakuza loan for his restaurant, and he never paid it back,” says a journalist who covers the underworld. “It’s possible that the yakuza hired a foreign group to take him out.”
Other publications have speculated that another bosozoku group called Dragon, an affiliate group of Kanto Rengo whose core membership is comprised of second and third generation returnees from China following the end of World War II, was that foreign group.
Lending credence to the foreign angle, believes the tabloid, is testimony of a witness who claimed that the suspects did not pronounce the Japanese language as native speakers during the .
The article further speculates on whether the assault could have simply been the result of a dispute, which are not infrequent in Roppongi when the nightlife quarter gets crowded in summer.
Yet looming over the aftermath of the incident is a rumor circling in Roppongi club circles.
“Security is very strict at Flower,” says an employee at a club in Roppongi. “The attackers were able to enter and exit the club very smoothly. On that day, a reservation at a VIP room was cancelled. Fujimoto was then asked if he was interested. Soon after the group appeared…” (K.N.)
Source: “Roppongi kurabu satsujin ‘tetsupaipu metta uchi’ fukumen shukdan no shotai ‘soki senjo ni Kanto Rengo to gaikokujin ga fujoshita,” Shukan Asahi Geino (Sep. 20)