TOKYO: Japanese police on Thursday arrested the leader of a particularly brutal yakuza organised crime syndicate for allegedly gunning down a man in public, a police spokesman said.
Satoru Nomura, 67, the top leader of Kudokai — acknowledged as one of the most dangerous yakuza crime syndicates in Japan — was taken into custody over the 1998 fatal shooting of a 70-year-old man, a police spokesman said.
“He is suspected of firing a gun at point-black range (to kill the victim)… and of shooting a weapon in public,” the spokesman said.
Possession and use of firearms in Japan is heavily regulated.
Television footage showed dozens of riot police wearing helmets and bulletproof vests milling around Nomura’s vast residence in Kitakyushu in western Japan.
The victim was Kunihiro Kajiwara, the head of the local fishermen’s co-operative. Media said his killing may have been in retaliation for refusing to give favourable treatment to the yakuza group over public works in a local port.
Four members of Kudokai were arrested in 2002 over the incident, of whom two were convicted, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported.
The yakuza occupy a grey area in Japan’s usually law-abiding society.