In 2015, the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi split from the Yamaguchi-gumi, sparking the yakuza war.
Reacting to the resulting wave of murder and mayhem, the police declared the two gangs to be in a turf war and tightened the limits placed on them.
The new restrictions empowered police to arrest anyone who entered a yakuza headquarters or loitered near a competing gang in specified designated locations.
Furthermore if at least five gang members were seen congregating in one place, police had the authority to make an arrest.
The fights between the Yamaguchi-gumi, the largest organized crime Yakuza syndicate in Japan, and two offshoot factions decreased dramatically as a result of this intense and coordinated police crackdown.
Unfortunately, however, the violence, is ratcheting up once more.
Background information on the yakuza
The yakuza are a very powerful and well-organized crime syndicate in Japan. They are involved in a wide variety of criminal activities, including drug trafficking, prostitution, extortion, and gambling.
The gangs are also known to be involved in legitimate businesses, such as construction, real estate, and finance.
The yakuza are a very difficult crime syndicate to crack down on because they are very well-connected and have a lot of influence within the Japanese government.
What is a kamikaze car attack?
In kamikaze car attacks, drivers intentionally direct their vehicles into the residences of powerful gang members, in a move designed to wreak as much physical damage to the target’s home as possible.
This type of attack is becoming increasingly popular because if caught, the perpetrator is only accused of property damage, which carries a relatively light sentence in Japanese law.
According to the police the goal of such yakuza kamikaze car attacks are twofold.
First of all it means that rival gang members can never relax or feel safe, not even when they are at home with their families.
In addition it raises tensions in the neighbourhood, with neighbours putting pressure on the target gang member to move out.
Renewed violence and tension – yakuza kamikaze car attacks on the rise
On May 8, early in the morning, a car rammed into the house of the head of the affiliate gang Takumi-gumi, who is also the second in command of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi.
The police detained a 26-year-old member of a rival group associated with the Yamaguchi-gumi. He was charged with breaking into a house and violence by the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office. In addition to driving into the home’s grounds, according to prosecution sources, the gang member allegedly vandalized the gate.
A couple of days later, on May 10, a high-ranking Kizuna-kai member was found with a gunshot wound to his right arm in a car parked at a medical facility in Iga, Mie Prefecture. The police arrested a 26-year-old member of a gang connected to the Yamaguchi-gumi on suspicion of attempted murder.
A month later, on June 5, Kunio Inoue, the leader of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, was shot in his home. A 49-year-old gang member was detained by Hyogo Prefectural Police after he turned himself in. Police believe he is a member of a group with Yamaguchi-gumi ties.
Yoshinori Oda, the head of the Kizuna-kai, was injured in a car accident on June 6. Police detained a 38-year-old man who surrendered the following day. It is believed he is a member of a gang affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi.
On June 6, the office of a gang located in Saga, on the major southern island of Kyushu, known to be connected to the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi was hit by a car early in the morning. The yakuza office was open to gang members without restriction because Saga city had not been included in the “turf-war” list so there were no restrictions on entry to the office imposed by the police. A 36-year-old Yamaguchi-gumi gang member turned himself in to Saga police.
It is clear that yakuza gang warfare is escalating dramatically in Japan, and the attacks, which include kamikaze car attacks, are becoming more frequent and more deadly.
While the police crackdown had been successful in reducing the overall level of violence in the past, it has not been able to stop the gang warfare entirely. It is therefore important that now that the fighting is once again breaking out into open warfare, the police take action to stop it before it gets out of control.
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