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Yakuza leader's threat to judge shouldn't be taken lightly

11 Comments

On August 24, the Fukuoka District Court handed down a sentence of death on Satoru Nomura, 74. Nomura, head of the Kudo-kai crime syndicate based in Kitakyushu City, was found guilty of one count of murder and three counts of attempted murder. None of the targets were members of rival gangs, but were ordinary citizens. The first involved the fatal 1998 shooting of an ex-boss of a fisheries cooperative who exerted influence over port construction projects. 

Nomura was also found guilty of being behind a 2014 attack on a relative of the abovementioned murder victim; a 2013 knife attack against a nurse at a clinic where he was being treated; and the 2012 non-fatal shooting of a former police official who had investigated the Kudo-kai. 

The evidence against Nomura was essentially circumstantial, and imposing the death penalty on a gang leader in Japan is unprecedented. The Kudo-kai, however, has been accorded the singular designation of being referred to as a "grossly vicious group" by the National Police Agency, so threats from their leader are not to be taken lightly. 

Also on the day Nomura was sentenced, his second in command, Fumio Tanoue, 65, was sentenced to life imprisonment. 

Upon hearing the sentence, Nomura allegedly said to Judge Ben Adachi, Anta, shogai kono koto kokai suru yo! ("You'll regret this for as long as you live.") 

Nomura's second-in-command Fumio Tanoue couldn't resist getting in a dig of his own, telling the judge, Tokyo no saibankan ni natte yokatta ne ("It's a good thing you'll be working in Tokyo").  

Should Judge Adachi worry? While acts of violence against Japanese judges are rare, it should be remembered that the first attack using sarin nerve gas, in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, on June 27, 1994, targeted the dormitory of judges who were hearing a property dispute involving the Aum Supreme Truth cult. Two of three judges were sickened, forcing the hearing to be postponed. 

In a regular column in Nikkan Gendai (Aug 30) called "Heads and Tails of Legal Knowledge," attorney Hiroki Takahashi writes, "I think these are extremely scary remarks." 

Takahashi refers to the term sontaku to describe how Nomura's underlings may have acted pre-emptively to ingratiate him, without needing specific orders to carry out the attacks. Or in other words, even without a clear set of orders, underlings who belong to the gang will get the message. So it stands to reason that the man at the top bears responsibility for their acts, and hence the stern sentence.  

The court's ruling for the death penalty is based on the same logic. Takahashi points out that even during the course of Nomura's trial, members of the Kudo-kai were placed under arrest for intimidating a witness. And although the two defendants were forbidden from communicating with rank-and-file gang members during their trial, the act of witness intimidation clearly indicates that even without specific orders, gang bosses can convey their unspoken wishes through sontaku. 

The word sontaku became popularized in the media in 2017 after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife became embroiled in a scandal involving the operator of a nationalist school.

In his own defense, of course, Nomura can always explain that he actually meant no harm to the judge, but only that the judge would regret sentencing an innocent man to the gallows, i.e., with no threat implied. 

Likewise, the possibility could be raised that Tanoue's remarks in the court could be interpreted as only meaning, "The presiding judge is moving to Tokyo. Make him pay for it." 

"The judge bears the responsibility for the conduct of the trial and because he was the one who handed down the ruling, even if in error, nothing should be allowed that would hamper his life, his physical safety or his private affairs," Takahashi asserts. "I believe the police organization, and the nation as a whole, need to put in place measures to ensure that judges will be safeguarded."

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11 Comments
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More excuses for the Japanese police to erase those good-for-nothings permanently. However, the extinction of the Yakuza will pave the roads for the rise of foreign crime syndicates. Japanese police is ill-equipped against such new threats.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

However, the extinction of the Yakuza will pave the roads for the rise of foreign crime syndicates. 

Septim@ Considering that a high percentage of the Kudo-kai membership is made up of naturalized Japanese of Korean descent, your prediction appears to have already come to pass.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

It's difficult to get the scum off of shoes. However, when you want nice shiny shoes, you have to do whatever you have to do to get rid of the Yaks.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

However, the extinction of the Yakuza will pave the roads for the rise of foreign crime syndicates

I dunno. The Yaks have a talent of riding a fine line between legal and illegal. They help the public out at times gaining public support in the process. I don't think Vinny from Italy or Alexei from Russia could manage. They would be too blatant about it and the police would drop the hammer.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Considering that a high percentage of the Kudo-kai membership is made up of naturalized Japanese of Korean descent, your prediction appears to have already come to pass.

Yes and No, many of them are 3rd-4th generation so they're really Japanese essentially, but I get the point.

I dunno. The Yaks have a talent of riding a fine line between legal and illegal. They help the public out at times gaining public support in the process. I don't think Vinny from Italy or Alexei from Russia could manage. They would be too blatant about it and the police would drop the hammer.

This is really true, unlike the mafia we have in the States, which are ferociously dangerous, cunning, and intimidating, the Yaks are, or at least most of them are more hot air than anything else, these people are definitely more out in the open than in most countries, most of them even have an actual headquarters with and actual address, only in Japan.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

these people are definitely more out in the open than in most countries, most of them even have an actual headquarters with and actual address, only in Japan.

The Hells Angels and a couple of other criminal bike gangs have headquarters and have even trademarked their logos.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

We will watch this judge's future with interest

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Criminal in WA about to receive his sentence....Judge begins his summing up.....crim pipes up "I dont want to hear from you, you clown, just give me my time and be done with it "

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Firstly the Kaicho of a fisherman's union is hardly a ordinary citizen. He's just Yakuza by another name. Bunch of pirates!

Secondly on getting rid of Yakuza. They tried that in Roppongi and I'm pleased to report that it's now a delightful place, clean and respectable (and you never get hassled/accosted every 10 meters on the street) now that the Nigerian mob has taken over.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Michael MachidaAug. 31  08:25 am JST

It's difficult to get the scum off of shoes. However, when you want nice shiny shoes, you have to do whatever you have to do to get rid of the Yaks.

It's a nice thought Michael. But who fills the void? Sometimes it's better to control the devil you know because it is naive to think that the underbelly of society will ever go away.

Unfortunately one has to keep polishing one's shoes because the scum will always return.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In reality, "Vinny from Italy or Alexei from Russia" would be preferable and are not the ones trying to take over crime in Japan. Its the obvious community that are operating even more openly than the Yaks, and, unlike the Yaks, really annoy visitors, but that politics dare not allow us to acknowledge, never mind combat. Frankly no other country would allow such an obvious international takeover of criminal behaviour in their country as is happening in Japan. So, in that case, better the devil you know...the Yaks.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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