Satoru Nomura, 74, head of the “Kudo-kai” crime syndicate in southwestern Japan, has denied charges of ordering violent assaults.
A Japanese court has sentenced a Yakuza mafia boss to death after ordering a murder and attacks on three other citizens.
Satoru Nomura, 74, head of the “Kudo-kai” crime syndicate in southwestern Japan, has denied accusations that he organized the violent assaults on members of the public.
The Fukuoka District Court confirmed that it sentenced Nomura to death on Tuesday, while Japanese media said the verdict was reached despite a lack of evidence linking him directly to the crimes.
“I asked for a fair ruling… You will regret it for the rest of your life,” Nomura told the judge after his conviction, according to the Nishinippon Shimbun newspaper.
The Yakuza Mafia has long been tolerated in Japan as a necessary evil to ensure order in the streets and get things done quickly, whatever the means.
But in recent decades, tighter anti-gang regulations, declining social tolerance, and a weak economy have resulted in a steady decline in yakuza memberships.
Nomura was convicted of ordering the 1998 assassination of a former boss of a fishing cooperative who had influence over port construction projects, mainstream media reported.
He was also behind a 2014 attack on a relative of the murder victim and a 2013 knife attack on a nurse at a clinic where Nomura was seeking treatment, the court reportedly said.
The shooting in 2012 of a former policeman who had investigated the Kudo-kai was also seen as Nomura’s responsibility.
The official survived with serious injuries to his waist and legs, media said.
Prosecutors reportedly argued that each of the four incidents was a coordinated attack by the Kudo-kai, with Nomura as the mastermind and his deputy, Fumio Tanoue, approving the actions through the gang’s chain of command structure.
Tanoue was sentenced to life imprisonment on Tuesday, the court said. Tanoue denied the allegations.
According to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, Tanoue also told the judge, “You are awful, Mr. Adachi” as he left the courtroom.
The court also demanded a fine of 20 million yen ($ 182,200) from Nomura and Tanoue.
The yakuza have grown from the chaos of post-war Japan to multi-billion dollar criminal organizations involved in everything from drugs and prostitution to protection rackets and white-collar crime.
Unlike the Italian mafia or the Chinese triads, the yakuza have long occupied a gray area in Japanese society – they are not illegal, and each group has its own headquarters in plain sight of the police.
With more than 100 inmates on death row, Japan is one of the few developed countries to maintain the death penalty.
Public support for the death penalty remains high despite international criticism, including from rights groups.