UPDATE: 10 Thugs Club Man To Death While 300 People Dance at Roppongi Club

UPDATE: According to the Japanese media and other sources, a group of ten men wearing ski-masks burst into the Roppongi Club Flower on September 2nd  at approximately 3:40 am and assaulted four men and women sitting together in the VIP room, clubbing one to death and injuring the others. The men used a backdoor entrance which led directly to the VIP room. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department released surveillance camera video of the men arriving at the crime scene, wearing black, putting on their masks and heading into the club.

The police cordoned off the crime scene, where the killing took place. (Photo courtesy of Jason Gatewood at http://www.jlgatewood.com)

The assailants appeared to be targeting Ryosuke Fujimoto, age 31, a customer of the dance club, the manager of a Korean barbecue restaurant (焼肉屋). The assault lasted less than two minutes and the men spoke not a word while beating Mr. Fujimoto to death with a metal pipes and aluminum baseballs bats. The cause of death is believed to be a severe cranial fracture.

 There were 300 people in the club at the time. No one intervened and many customers didn’t realize what was happening until after the men had fled.  The VIP room is unusually dark and slightly isolated from the main dance floor. The men are believed to have left the crime scene in a van parked nearby and also split up into several cars to flee the scene. While there has been speculation that the men involved were foreigners there has been no eyewitness testimony or evidence to substantiate those reports other than latent xenophobia. (Of course, they could be foreigners. Ski masks hide nationality pretty well as well as they do faces.) 

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department Investigation Division One 警視庁捜査一課 (Homicide and Violent Crimes) is investigating the case as a homicide. On December 14th, 2011, a group of twenty men burst into a Roppongi Cabaret club and assaulted four members affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi Kokusui-kai (山口組国粋会), with beer bottles and blunt weapons, injuring one of them severely. The police suspect there may be a possible link to the two cases. The assault in December was believed to have been carried out by members of the Kanto Rengo (関東連合) a loosely networked gang different from the traditional yakuza, and not a designated organized crime group. Kanto Rengo is known for extremely violent assaults and because they are not a designated organized crime group, they are subject to less restrictions than the Yamaguchi-gumi and other crime groups.

The 2nd possibility being considered is that the assault on Mr. Fujimoto was the result of a clash between the Kanto Rengo and another gang fighting for territory in the Roppongi area. Police are checking to see if Mr. Fujimoto had any gang affiliation. He was a regular at the club and had reportedly told is friends earlier in the week that he had gotten a VIP room reservation and was excited to go.

Sources close to the investigation said that Mr. Fujimoto was believed to have been a member of the Kanto Rengo in his youth, when Kanto Rengo was still primarily a motorcycle gang (暴走族).  The police officially are not sure of his present or past ties to the gang. A weekly magazine recently reported that Fujimoto had also borrowed a substantial amount of money from an organized crime group to set up his restaurant and was behind on the lines.

Mr. Fujimoto opened his Korean Barbecue restaurant 雌牛 (Meushi/Male Cow)in Shibuya ward last February with capital of about 3,000,000 yen ($35,000).

Meushi (雌牛)is A "Girl's Yakiniku" restaurant. At 雌牛 (Meushi) attractive women cook the meat for the customers. *Photo from News Post Seven website article about the restaurant.

 

Mr. Fujimoto was reportedly asked to pay protection money by the Kokusuikai in the area but refused. Police are also interested in rumors that another gang tried to shake him down as well.   However, if Mr. Fujimoto was indeed a former member of the Kanto Rengo and still had ties to them, the attack on him may be directly related to the assault on Kokusui-kai members last year. The Kokusui-kai is capable of well-orchestrated violence, including the very public assassination of a Sumiyoshi-kai executive several years ago. 

In recent years, the established organized crime groups have ceded control of the Roppongi area to the gangs in exchange for a regular kickback. One mid-level boss of a Kanto based yakuza group explained it this way, “The class of clientele in the dead zone between Roppongi Hills and Midtown keeps going down and that means there’s more trouble and less money to be made. It’s not worth the trouble and just taking a cut makes better sense.”

A retired detective from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department says the crime is not typical of Kanto area yakuza. “The killing was meant to be a warning, not just a death sentence. The very public execution is more typical of Kansai and Kyushu yakuza or foreign gangs.  It may seem like overkill to go in with a gang of ten people, but in the dark VIP room, it is probably impossible to determine who struck the fatal blow and this will tend to lighten the criminal responsibility across the board.”

In Kanto, the yakuza when making a hit, tend to kidnap their victims, kill them in the mountains and bury them there.  A mid-level yakuza boss says, “Leaving a body behind is not a bright thing to do unless you have a reason for doing it.” The Kanto Yakuza also are less inclined to attack civilians because of the police crackdown that inevitably follows.

The retired detective also pointed out that the use of baseball bats and other blunt weapons by the group was also well-thought out. “Assuming that the assailants get caught, they will face much lighter penalties than if they had used a knife or a gun, which would would be a violation of the sword and firearms laws (銃刀法違反)and result in aggravated charges.” ber 10th

According to the Japanese media and other sources, a group of ten men wearing ski-masks burst into the Roppongi Club Flower on September 2nd  at approximately 3:40 am and assaulted four men and women sitting together in the VIP room, clubbing one to death and injuring the others. The men used a backdoor entrance which led directly to the VIP room. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department released surveillance camera video of the men arriving at the crime scene, wearing black, putting on their masks and heading into the club.

The police cordoned off the crime scene, where the killing took place. (Photo courtesy of Jason Gatewood at http://www.jlgatewood.com)

The assailants appeared to be targeting Ryosuke Fujimoto, age 31, a customer of the dance club, the manager of a Korean barbecue restaurant (焼肉屋). The assault lasted less than two minutes and the men spoke not a word while beating Mr. Fujimoto to death with a metal pipes and aluminum baseballs bats. The cause of death is believed to be a severe cranial fracture.

 There were 300 people in the club at the time. No one intervened and many customers didn’t realize what was happening until after the men had fled.  The VIP room is unusually dark and slightly isolated from the main dance floor. The men are believed to have left the crime scene in a van parked nearby and also split up into several cars to flee the scene. While there has been speculation that the men involved were foreigners there has been no eyewitness testimony or evidence to substantiate those reports other than latent xenophobia. (Of course, they could be foreigners. Ski masks hide nationality pretty well as well as they do faces.) 

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department Investigation Division One 警視庁捜査一課 (Homicide and Violent Crimes) is investigating the case as a homicide. On December 14th, 2011, a group of twenty men burst into a Roppongi Cabaret club and assaulted four members affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi Kokusui-kai (山口組国粋会), with beer bottles and blunt weapons, injuring one of them severely. The police suspect there may be a possible link to the two cases. The assault in December was believed to have been carried out by members of the Kanto Rengo (関東連合) a loosely networked gang different from the traditional yakuza, and not a designated organized crime group. Kanto Rengo is known for extremely violent assaults and because they are not a designated organized crime group, they are subject to less restrictions than the Yamaguchi-gumi and other crime groups.

The 2nd possibility being considered is that the assault on Mr. Fujimoto was the result of a clash between the Kanto Rengo and another gang fighting for territory in the Roppongi area. Police are checking to see if Mr. Fujimoto had any gang affiliation. He was a regular at the club and had reportedly told is friends earlier in the week that he had gotten a VIP room reservation and was excited to go.

Sources close to the investigation said that Mr. Fujimoto was believed to have been a member of the Kanto Rengo in his youth, when Kanto Rengo was still primarily a motorcycle gang (暴走族).  The police officially are not sure of his present or past ties to the gang.

Mr. Fujimoto opened his Korean Barbecue restaurant 雌牛 (Meushi/Male Cow)in Shibuya ward last February with capital of about 3,000,000 yen ($35,000).

Meushi (雌牛)is A "Girl's Yakiniku" restaurant. At 雌牛 (Meushi) attractive women cook the meat for the customers. *Photo from News Post Seven website article about the restaurant.

 

Mr. Fujimoto was reportedly asked to pay protection money by the Kokusuikai in the area but refused. Police are also interested in rumors that another gang tried to shake him down as well.   However, if Mr. Fujimoto was indeed a former member of the Kanto Rengo and still had ties to them, the attack on him may be directly related to the assault on Kokusui-kai members last year. The Kokusui-kai is capable of well-orchestrated violence, including the very public assassination of a Sumiyoshi-kai executive several years ago. 

In recent years, the established organized crime groups have ceded control of the Roppongi area to the gangs in exchange for a regular kickback. One mid-level boss of a Kanto based yakuza group explained it this way, “The class of clientele in the dead zone between Roppongi Hills and Midtown keeps going down and that means there’s more trouble and less money to be made. It’s not worth the trouble and just taking a cut makes better sense.”

A retired detective from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department says the crime is not typical of Kanto area yakuza. “The killing was meant to be a warning, not just a death sentence. The very public execution is more typical of Kansai and Kyushu yakuza or foreign gangs.  It may seem like overkill to go in with a gang of ten people, but in the dark VIP room, it is probably impossible to determine who struck the fatal blow and this will tend to lighten the criminal responsibility across the board.”

In Kanto, the yakuza when making a hit, tend to kidnap their victims, kill them in the mountains and bury them there.  A mid-level yakuza boss says, “Leaving a body behind is not a bright thing to do unless you have a reason for doing it.” The Kanto Yakuza also are less inclined to attack civilians because of the police crackdown that inevitably follows.

The retired detective also pointed out that the use of baseball bats and other blunt weapons by the group was also well-thought out. “Assuming that the assailants get caught, they will face much lighter penalties than if they had used a knife or a gun, which would would be a violation of the sword and firearms laws (銃刀法違反)and result in aggravated charges.”

originally published on September 2nd, 2012

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36 thoughts on “UPDATE: 10 Thugs Club Man To Death While 300 People Dance at Roppongi Club”

  1. Over 300 people around and no one intervened? Wow.

    I am wondering if the new restrictions on the Yamaguchi-gumi and other crime groups will lead to an influx of gangs like the 関東連合, eager to take advantage of the situation and expand their influence. The nature of this attack is pretty audacious.

  2. To be completely honest, if ten guys with metal pipes and aluminium baseball bats started savagely beating people to death, I’d be hesitant to intervene too out of fear for my own life. Then consider that most of the people at the club probably didn’t realise what was happening until it was too late (and the ones that did were probably in a state of shock also) it’s not surprising that nobody intervened.

    That doesn’t make it any less disturbing though.

    1. Matt, I thought the same thing myself. I don’t know what I’d do. I’d probably immediately call the police. Maybe I’d throw a chair at one of them. Look for a fire extinguisher or something with enough force to slow them down. But I don’t know that I’d do something courageous to stop it barehanded.

      1. Hi Jake,

        Please keep us updated on this story. Whatever the victim did, this is outrageous and the perpetrators have to be brought to justice. If this sort of very public and violent murder does warrant a forceful response what does? What does it take before the Japanese police authorities snap the chain on these dogs and bring them to heel? Beating someone to death in the middle of Shibuya scramble kosaten? An OK Corral shootout that takes out civilians?

        As you described in Tokyo Vice (props!, btw), organized crime has thoroughly infiltrated Japanese society. I am not interested in telling Japanese how to run their country but sometimes a little gaiatsu is needed.

        Keep up the good work!

  3. One big advantage of iron bars and aluminum baseball bats is less collateral damage. In the land of three hundred million guns, scores are settled scattershot and god help you if you’re in the way. The precision of this murder is impressive.

    1. “The men used a backdoor entrance which led directly to the VIP room. ”

      “The assault lasted less than two minutes and the men spoke not a word…”

      Given the discreet entrance, speed, and relative silence, few (if any) knew it was happening; is it any wonder nobody intervened?

  4. To be honest, I would have called police, but not too sure if I would have interfered otherwise. It would sadden me (though not surprise me considering the inept police work I see in Japan) if these thugs get away with this, considering that there are tons of video cameras I see on the streets (I imagine there had to be some in that area of Roppongi) that probably caught this escape van, as well as some other details of the crime. I guess we’ll see, but chances are this will disappear off the news pages, as surely as wads of cash will disappear into the pockets of the police investigating this and other similarly related crimes. I get the feeling that gang on gang crimes tend to have the police look the other way anyways, and this probably wasn’t about some stand up individual getting randomly attacked.

    1. The Tokyo police are less corrupt than you’d imagine. However, gang on gang violence has a low priority in the investigation scheme. On the other hand, some homicide cases the police doggedly pursue for years and years—finally getting results.

    1. Read more carefully. He wrote “300 million guns” and was obviously referring to the U.S., where beating someone to death with a baseball bat and/or metal pipe would seem quaint and inefficient.

  5. Looks like the LESS Regulated SMALL guy is doing the DIRTY work FOR the big shots now…kinda’ like Sub-Contracting, if you will.

  6. The thing who make me laught with those kind of gang is they all are coward…YES, COWARD…

    Everybody can be enough courageous to attack one guy when you come with 10 friends and baseball bats. Hahahah. All those gang guys are just pussy.

    I would like to see one of them alone without any weapon. I think their pair of ball will just leave. Pfff

    1. um, yeah, this wasn’t a barroom brawl, Shane, it was a hit. They aren’t about honor, or combat, they are about removing the enemy [or betraying friend] immediately and without any damage to your own crew. AND they are about making a messy example, to everyone who has eyes. Like as not the guy was dead after the first blow, and they didn’t go on to do anything else in the bar.

      When they say no-one intervened, how long would it take for anyone to make up their mind it was worth doing so? You’re there dancing with your girl, and you hear a commotion… that’s over in 2 min. for most people it wouldn’t register until it was over. There was also tacit approval from someone on the inside, to be able to get in and out.

      It’s sad stuff.

  7. I walked in front of that building last Friday night at around 930pm on my way out of the Pong, so it was pretty disturbing to read about this. I used to meet up with one of my buddies to play pool at Bagus there till we decided the one in Shibuya is better, if more crowded. I knew there were some clubs in that building but I’m not a club guy so I never paid any attention to them. Sometimes the elevator would be packed with slicked up, kinda rich looking young people.

    Anyway, hopefully they catch the guys who did this and put them away for 30 years but J-cops being J-cops I won’t go holding my breath. As to how I would have reacted, probably just like everyone else – freeze and call the cops, at best. Step in? Uh…no. Jake’s idea of throwing a chair sounded pretty good. The downside, of course, is that they could turn on you, bash you a good one and leave you with a dented skull, slurred speech and a lazy eye for the rest of your life. It was clearly a hit and a nasty one at that. I guess we can say that Japan is safer than the US, in that hits in the US involve guns and the proposed solution is to arm everyone so they can return fire.

    1. I hope they catch the guys responsible as well. There’s credible information that the victim had social contact with the Kanto Rengo-kai which might explain a lot but I don’t have definite confirmation.

  8. It says the charges would likely be lightened since there were several of them, so the technical murderer is harder to determine and because they used blunt objects instead of blades or firearms. But since it was clearly premeditated and they probably made those decisions precisely because they knew the laws, does it still work? Given the speed, efficiency, and preparation involved, why wouldn’t all ten be charged with murder? Since it wasn’t a lone guy to give the excuse he was acting on his own, are there any conspiracy laws to invoke?

    1. I’m not a lawyer or a prosecutor but here’s how it was explained to me.
      All ten will probably be charged with murder, but some could claim, “We just were going to rough him up” and plead violent assault resulting in death. (傷害致死). Of course, any rational person knows that if you hit someone in the head with a baseball bat, you will probably kill them. In Japanese legal terms, 未必の故意. So homicide charges should be filed.
      However, while it’s not written down in the law, but rather by precedent and tradition–the heaviest penalty is usually reserved for the person who struck the fatal blow or the 主犯格 (the main culprit). If no one knows who finished him off, there’s no one to be “the main culprit.”
      The way the law is written and the way Japanese judges interpret the law according to precedents and tradition can be very different.

  9. “On December 14th, 2011, a group of twenty men burst into a Roppongi Cabaret club and assaulted four members affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi Kokusui-kai (山口組国粋会), with beer bottles and blunt weapons, injuring one of them severely. ”

    It is not true.
    The assaulted men are members of the Yamaguchi-gumi Ochiaikanamachi-rengo(山口組落合金町連合).
    Ochiaikanamachi-rengo was promoted to “the second group” (2次団体) or “jikisan”(直参) of the Yamaguchi-gumi and independent of the Kokusui-kai in October, 2011.

    1. Takeishi-san,
      You are partially correct. They were originally part of the Kokusui-kai which merged with the Yamaguchi-gumi towards the end of 2005, giving the Yamaguchi-gumi a foothold in Tokyo. The group still has tight connections to their parent organization.”Affiliated” was probably too vague a word. 山口組国粋会系暴力団というように書くつもりでした。もっと正確に書けばよかったと反省しております。
      In some ways, the move resembles 極心連合 being promoted to a second tier group when it was previously part of the 山健組.
      The promotion of the 落合金町連合 to a second tier group generated the problems that resulted in the attack, in part. 溝口先生 has written about it great detail.

      1. Mr Adelstein,

        I understand your intention.
        Certainly,the former parent organization remains to the strong influence on their once subgroups.
        Perhaps this relationship is so called “Jingi” in their bussiness.

        もっとも、私は暴力団の「仁義」など信じてはいませんが。

        1. Takeisihi-san,
          Thanks for understanding.
          現代の暴力団には仁義なんてないという考察は指摘通りだと思います。大昔はあった可能性は否定できません。
          ご返事ありがとうございます。

  10. Hi Jake,

    You don’t know me but I wrote a comment on your website some months ago saying how much I had liked Tokyo Vice.

    I’ll be in Tokyo on business for a couple of weeks from September 21st and I thought it’d pretty cool (well, for me at least) if we met for coffee. Just, you know, for the chance to shake your hand and have a chat. Plus it seems you’re a smoker, and we’re a dying breed, so we could start with that.

    If you want to know more about me, I’d be happy to oblige.

    Hope all this doesn’t sound too creepy.

    Yours,

    Aymeric

  11. Elidor

    And who would be in this little room and what in the world would they want from me? I calls ’em the way I sees ’em.

    ‘Jeffrey’ hit it on the head (oops, bad choice): ‘quaint’ is the word that comes to mind when we view Japan from afar. Or even ‘cute’ if one dares describe a murderous beating is such terms. Cartoonish. Where are the AK-47s, splattering rounds wantonly into the strobe-lit dance floor? Mass chaos. One-the-scene triage, IVs dripping. Cut to draped corpses lined neatly in area morgues. Japan is wonderfully repressed, good-mannered. It’s psychos are locked in psych wards, reading comic books, while ours are meticulously plotting the most heinous mass assaults, casually buying their weaponry at local gun/ammunition stores, the unknowing future victims living their ordinary, hopeful suburban lives while awaiting random execution in a darkened theater in banal commercial surroundings. Not quaint, not cute. Mind-numbing, pukingly-terrifying. Very American. Tragically.

  12. Jake,

    So now two mopes have turned themselves in for this.

    http://www.japantoday.com/category/crime/view/2-men-turn-themselves-in-over-roppongi-nightclub-murder

    What’s your take on this? Did the cops put pressure on the gang to give up a couple of people (to save the cops some face) or else the cops were going to make their lives hell? Presumably these two are not going to roll over and give up the other 8 – 13 people who beat that guy to death in exchange for a lighter sentence. Can you please give us some insight as to what’s going on here?

    I walked in front of that building the night it happened, which kind of freaked me out the next day when I heard about the murder, so I’ve been following this story with a little more interest than usual…

    1. Matt,
      By turning themselves in, they’re hoping for a lighter sentence. I’d be screwing with the investigation if I wrote more but these guys were extremely careless in conducting the crime and maybe they feared that the people who hired them to do the killing might kill them as well. This whole bloodbath is very likely a proxy gang war between the Sumiyoshi-kai and the Yamaguchi-gumi with different factions of the un-organized crime group, Kanto Rengo, being involved.

      1. Jake,

        The cops arrested five suspects at Haneda yesterday after they had just come back from Korea. The cops also arrested three more at an upreported location for a total of 8 suspects arrested on Thursday.

        http://www.japantoday.com/category/crime/view/8-arrested-over-murder-of-man-in-roppongi-nightclub

        Together with the two that turned themselves in December, that would be 10 suspects total in custody or the same number of assailants reported to have participatged in the murder. Maybe the 2 suspects who turned themselves in back in December confessed everything to the cops?

        It seems possible. The Japan Today reports the cops are still looking for 9 other suspects. If 10 people carried out the hit, who were the 9 others? Getaway drivers? Lookouts? Guys who stole the getaway cars? Perhaps more senior people in Kanto Rengo who planned the hit and ordered the others to carry it out?

        As you mentioned last December, the Japan Today is reporting that it was Kanto Rengo that carried out the hit. I agree with you – there is likely more to this story than just a bunch of thugs bursting into a club and beating a man to death. Please let us know if you have any insight/updates you can share.

        1. It’s a lot of people to be involved in one murder. The Japanese government revoked the passports of those fleeing and then it became a matter of public record. I’m assuming this had something to do with the guys coming back.

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