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Japanese police arrest top yakuza gangster

Jorgo/Open access

Japanese police have arrested the number three of the biggest yakuza crime syndicate, the Yamaguchi-gumi. Local media say the move is part of an intensifying crackdown on the notorious gangs.

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Tadashi Irie was arrested along with two other Yamaguchi-gumi members on Wednesday in Osaka prefecture. He is accused of paying compensation to the relatives of a gunman who had been jailed for murdering a senior member of a rival yakuza group as part of a vendetta.

Two weeks ago the Yamaguchi-gumi’s second-in-command was arrested for extortion. The top godfather, Kenichi Shinoda, has been in jail since 2005 for violation of firearms laws but is due to be released in April next year.

"The National Police Agency has ordered police around the country to debilitate the Yamaguchi-gumi through crackdowns," the major daily Asahi Shimbun said.

Yamaguchi-gumi, which is based in Kobe, is believed to have more than 50,000 members, about half of Japan’s gangsters.

Irie was arrested under a 2008 change to the law which banned monetary or other rewards in return for violent acts.

Gangland war escalated in 1997 when the Yamaguchi-gumi's then second-in-command was killed in Kobe by a hitman from a splinter gang, the Nakano-gumi. Two Nakano-gumi
leaders were later killed in reprisal.

The engage in activities from gambling, drugs and prostitution to loan sharking, protection rackets, white-collar crime and business conducted through front companies.

But they are not illegal, and they operate out of corporate headquarters that are listed in phone books.

Many local administrations are reportedly preparing to put ordinances in place to ban commercial transactions with yakuza-linked entities.

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