Like the mob inItaly and the United States and the triads in China and Hong Kong, the shadow of the yakuza hovers over the economic and social life of Japan. But, unlike the other two, it does not win so many headlines with notable exceptions such as that of Satoru Nomura and his band Kudo-kai, based in the south-west of the country in Fukuoka prefecture. For its savage violence, Nomura, of 74 years, has been sentenced this Tuesday to the death penalty together with his lieutenant, Fumio Tanoue, 65 and sentenced to life imprisonment.
After a long trial that began in October 2019, and in whose 62 oral hearings almost a hundred gangsters and policemen have testified, both have been convicted of four crimes committed between February 1998 and May 2014. The first was the shooting death of the leader of a fishing cooperative in Kita-Kyushu, a major port near the city of Fukuoka, on which the Nomura clan had set their sights. Almost two decades later, in 2014, a relative of the victim, who was a dentist, was stabbed to intimidate the family.
In between there were two other assassination attempts that the court ruling also attributes to the Kudo-kai gang. In April 2012, a former Fukuoka Police officer was shot and injured in the legs and, in January 2013, a nurse at a clinic where ‘godfather’ Nomura had been treated was stabbed. While the Prosecutor’s Office maintains that the first attack was retaliation for the investigation against the Kudo-kai clan opened by the Fukuoka Police, the second was a personal revenge of the gangster for the treatment received at the clinic. Apparently, he didn’t even bother to order his men to “look like an accident.”
And there is the basis of the sentence. Although the material perpetrators of these attacks had already been convicted, the justice has now punished Nomura and his lieutenant for ordering them, since both led the chain of command of the Kudo-kai gang. This yakuza structure, recognized in all trials except the murder of the leader of the fishing cooperative, is what has served to prosecute and convict Nomura and Tanoue, against whom there was no evidence direct.
Claiming their innocence, both have protested against the ruling of the Fukuoka District Court. “I was asking for a fair trial, but it was not. He will regret this for the rest of his life, “warned the ‘godfather’ Nomura to judge Ben Adachi after reading the sentence, according to the newspaper ‘Asahi’. “I wasn’t involved in the slightest!” Tanoue yelled. Together with their respective convicts, both will have to pay a fine of 20 million yen (155.221 euros).
The harshest possible sentence
In addition to the circumstantial nature of the evidence, the case has aroused strong controversy for being one of the few death sentencese against a yakuza chief. On this occasion, the court has justified that the sentence be the harshest possible because the victims of the attacks were not even gangsters from rival gangs, but ordinary people. “These incidents are unprecedented in the atrocious nature of the crimes perpetrated by organized gangs,” argued the Prosecutor’s Office, who warned that “ordinary citizens had become the target of the attacks, posing a direct threat to society. ».
With this death penalty, the Japanese justice gives an example to the yakuza, who usually move in the shadows to control their business over the drugs, gambling and prostitution, but also in construction and ports. In 2008, another mob boss was sentenced to death for assassinating the mayor of Nagasaki, a case that also angered public opinion. Since September 2014, the Fukuoka Police have been trying to dismantle the violent Kudo-kai clan, which had more than 1,200 members in 2008 and numbered about 430 at the end of last year.
With this sentence, the ‘gift’ Satoru Nomura joins the hundreds of prisoners waiting on ‘death row’ in Japan, one of the few advanced countries that continues to maintain capital punishment but where
is widely accepted
by society. In addition, it continues to be applied with the medieval method of hanging despite being the country of ‘high-tech’. With some 2,500 families spread throughout the Japanese archipelago, the yakuza divides its origins between the tradition of the descendants of the last samurai of the 17th century and the criminals who emerged under the protection of the “economic miracle” after World War II. Also known as the “8-9-3”, in honor of the useless cards of the Black Jack, the tattooed gangsters of the yakuza combine their strict code of honor with their ruthless bloodthirsty character.