Ikebukuro rumble by quasi-gangsters has police in a tizzy


On the evening of Oct 16, pandemonium broke out at a deluxe French restaurant on the 58th floor of the Sunshine City building in Tokyo's Ikebukuro district.

Earlier media accounts reported the "quasi-gangster" group known as "Chinese Dragon" had rented out one-third of the restaurant's space for a party to fete the release of one of its leaders from prison.

While approximately 100 members toasted and made merry, a group of 20 or so uninvited individuals wearing black masks entered the venue, and soon people were shouting, throwing food and exchanging punches.

The police arrived around 6:30 p.m. and provided first aid to one injured man. The rest had all fled from the premises, leaving in their wake overturned tables, food and plates scattered on the floor and smashed doors.

Asahi Geino (Nov 3) claims to have got its hands on an exclusive -- a copy of the "secret police file" that sheds light on who was involved. The group now called "Chinese Dragon" was originally a biker gang formed in the late 1980s, with many of its members the children or grandchildren of Japanese war orphans who had been abandoned when the Japanese military was driven out of Manchuria and northeast China in 1945.

"There may have been Dragon members at the party, but the main person involved was neither a boss or rank-and-file member of Dragon," a man referred to only as Mr. X tells the magazine. "He'd been released after serving more than ten years in prison for armed robbery. So the Dragons might have been in the group that invaded the venue afterwards."

X thinks the interlopers did not come bearing ill will, but other partygoers objected and a fight broke out spontaneously. The fact that no cutting instruments were wielded during the melee strongly suggested the fight was probably not premeditated, although the Dragons were said to have had another 100 soldiers assembled on a lower floor, just in case.

Geino does not mention the name of the man released from prison, but claims it confirmed he had served a term of 11 years, and that while he was a self-described "company director," he was actually one of Dragon's leaders.

Dragon's history goes back to when it was formed by young Chinese-Japanese toughs in Tokyo's Edogawa Ward, who banded together due to discrimination by Japanese. They rumbled against other biker gangs and gradually recruited Japanese members.

"Due to their propensity for violence, Dragon members were scouted out by yakuza gangs, and in some cases they came to wear two hats," crime journalist Yukio Ishihara tells Asahi Geino. "The arrangement suited both sides."

Then from the 1990s, the number of illegal entrants from China increased.

"They were out to make money as quickly as they could," a police source is quoted as saying. "Dragon was ideally positioned because its members understood Chinese, and were on familiar terms with the Japanese underworld. Some of these Chinese arrivals also had ties with criminal networks in mainland China, and Dragon expanded rapidly. In addition to violent crimes like armed robbery and murder, they proved adept at technology, and crimes like credit card forgery also grew. They became a full-fledged mafia."

Eventually the police file grew thicker with incidents involving the gang, such as the run-in with Kabuki star Ebizo Ichikawa, who received a vicious beating at the hands of a Dragon member.

Asahi Geino then parades out a "secret police memorandum" concerning the activities of 29 han-gure (quasi-gangster) groups dated 2019. The material covers activities not only in major cities such as Tokyo and Osaka, but also regional areas like Okinawa, where they also set down roots and began wreaking havoc.

"At the time that memorandum was produced, some of the groups had already disbanded, so it didn't really ring true," says a former quasi-gangster, now gainfully employed. "Very few people actually know Dragon's current activities and situation -- they're hard to fathom."

But Tokyo police still appear determined to track down the party poopers at Ikebukuro. 

"I've heard that the men who were involved in the Sunshine City rumble have made up with each other," a city desk reporter remarks. "So even if someone gets busted, the chances of their being brought to trial is unlikely. Still, if the cops can't prosecute anyone for committing bodily injury, they can still file charges for property damage."

A drawn-out battle between the shadowy quasi-gangsters and police has only just begun, the article pessimistically predicts.

© Japan Today

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Sounds like a plot from a future season of Tokyo Vice. :-)

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I didn’t know gangsters were so scary in Japan

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

> What’s quasi about them?

Nothing at all. They are just not members of a gang that is recognized as Yakuza.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The so-called "han-gure," the shape-shifters of the underworld, are referred to by police as 準暴力団 (jun-boryokudan), which translates into English as quasi-gangsters. They are loosely organized and lack the vertical structure of yakuza groups, which are well known to the police. Some yakuza groups have continuous histories as bakuto (gamblers) or tekiya (peddlers) from pre-modern times. Since their presence tends to be more low-key than yakuza, the han-gure have proved difficult for the police to penetrate. Realizing this, the yakuza find it practical to farm out some of their dirty work to the han-gure.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

I am not surprised at all. Foreign crime syndicates are gradually taking over Japan. Chinese and Vietnamese, the two largest foreign populations in Japan, have been dominating the criminal underworld for years, and Yakuzas can't economically compete against them. Vietnamese criminals dominate every headline in domestic issues within Japanese media every week.

With the weak Yen, there has been a steady rise of foreign investors infusing into the Japanese economy for control. Chinese are the biggest players. The trend of more violent, foreign criminals will rise.

Sounds like a plot from a future season of Tokyo Vice. :-)

Agreed. We are going to see foreign crime syndicates erasing the Yakuza and eventually controlling the Japanese police force through bribes.

Chinese and Vietnamese illegal businesses are thriving in Japan because they give bribes to Japanese political elites for a very cheap amount.

-4 ( +10 / -14 )

That lacking of an hierarchy is the biggest problem with them I guess. The common and usual system of police, prosecution and justice is currently not capable at all of handling that and it’s only getting confused and turned into inactivity. For example, now with those nearly structureless dragon groups, one doesn’t know, what’s the address of that entity, who’s houses to raid, who to take into custody or interrogation and investigation, who to put main responsibility on, or simply who to send an order letter to appear in court and so on. They are acting quite asymmetrical and although they are now very well visible on the radar, one cannot say which green dot of the many on the display is the incoming, so to say.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

There was a other incident yesterday between an unknown group and Nepalis. I suspect it was a racist attack by Chinese against Nepalis, because tensions between the Chinese and Indians seem to be really high recently, and Chinese do not have good behavioral instincts.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

"Chinese Dragon" reminds me of the gang "Flaming Dragon" in that movie, Tropic Thunder. (Can you believe that is Tom Cruise?!)

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Sounds like the Steven Seagal movie, Into the Sun ...maybe make sequel keeping with French theme, Apres Moi Le Deluge

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There goes Japan remaining a safe country!

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Septim missed the part where it said they were descended from Japanese colonizers living in China, not Chinese foreigners... Maybe learn to read before spreading biased hate like that. Though I guess if you knew how to read, you would be educated enough not to have those views either.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"The common and usual system of police, prosecution and justice is currently not capable at all of handling that and it’s only getting confused and turned into inactivity. For example, now with those nearly structureless dragon groups, one doesn’t know, what’s the address of that entity, who’s houses to raid, who to take into custody or interrogation and investigation"

I get what you're saying, but I don't think it's that they are not "capable" and more that they are just not willing. It takes a tiny bit more effort, which is too much for Japanese police. No, most criminals, besides official Yakuza, don't have listed 'headquarters'; it's kinda funny that Yakuza do. So basically they will not do normal crime-fighting and investigative activities, that's all there is to it. Because they could prosecute them as individual criminals, or even criminals and accomplices if they really wanted to. Of course a big problem for crime in Tokyo is you have to report a crime only to the closest police box where it happened, so what happens to crimes that occur across multiple areas? Tokyo and Japan in general is just not equipped to handle crime and police are lazy and don't want to change the system to one where they would actually have to work, sorry to say.
0 ( +0 / -0 )

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