The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department (TMPD) is tightening up their investigation of former mob boss Tadamasa Goto, alleged Buddhist priest and best-selling author, on charges of two murders. Last week the TMPD arrested former Goto-gumi member and currently Yamaguchi-gumi Rachi-gumi member (山口組良知組)–Hideo Matsumoto (松本英也容疑者) of charges of pre-meditated murder. On the 24th of October (2011) the TMPD raided the offices of Rachi-gumi looking for related evidence. Rachi-gumi was one of two groups that Goto-gumi was split into after Goto’s ouster in October of 2010.
One of the two person teams that was used to kill Nozaki, former Goto-gumi member Takashi Kondo, (近藤毅), was himself gunned down in Thailand this April. Mr. Matsumoto may have functioned as the look-out. Goto-gumi assassination squads usually functioned with four to five people, often with no previous meetings—aka Reservoir Dogs style.Police sources believe that Matsumoto, instructed Mr. Kondo to flee to China. Matsumoto is also believed to have financially supported Kondo while he was in hiding, possibly with Goto’s financial aid.
This April, according to underworld sources, Kondo was promised a new passport and a new life by Tadamasa Goto, and left China for Cambodia where he entered Thailand and was killed in a bloody shooting match. The Thai Police are dubious that the Thai guide who turned himself in actually shot Kondo and his friend.
Goto Tadamasa was the head of the Yamaguchi-gumi Goto-gumi (山口組後藤組)until October 14th 2008, when he was forced out of Japan’s largest criminal organization, the Yamaguchi-gumi, which has 39,000 members. In his prime, he controlled over a thousand gangsters and affiliates, one hundred front companies and assets of over a billion dollars. He may also have been involved in the Olympus scandal as well which could have generated huge funds for the Yamaguchi-gumi Corporation. However, his back-door deal with the FBI to get a liver transplant at UCLA, along with liver transplants for three other yakuza, his insubordination, and his habit of condoning and/or ordering attacks on innocent civilians resulted in the organization council deciding to force him into retirement.
In December of 2010, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police (TMPD) arrested a former member of the Yamaguchi-gumi Goto-gumi (Nobuyuki Yamamoto) for killing a real estate consultant, Kazuoki Nozaki, in a dispute over a valuable building in Shibuya ward. The murder took place in 2006. A Goto-gumi front company was laying claim to the building and Nozaki-san was an obstacle in their plans. He was stabbed to death on the streets of Minato-ward. Yamamoto has denied receiving direct orders from Goto Tadamasa, his former gang-boss. An international arrest warrant for the superior of Nobuyuki Yamamoto was issued after Yamamoto’s arrest, a man known as Kondo Takashi (近藤毅) also a former Goto-gumi member. The TMPD felt they had a strong case on circumstantial evidence alone that Goto had ordered the hit but no direct testimony from someone receiving orders. Kondo, they felt, was the key to making their case.
Nobuyuki Yamamoto was convicted of murder on May 14th and sentenced to 13 years of hard labor, as requested by the prosecutor. The judged at sentencing noted, “It was an outrageous killing of an ordinary citizen.” According to the ruling, Yamamoto, who was a member of the Goto-gumi and under Goto’s supervision at the time of the crime, working with another Goto-gumi member Kondo Takashi (under international arrest warrant for the same murder), plotted together and on the evening of March 5th, 2006, they stabbed Mr. Nozaki to death on the streets of Minato-ward Aoyama area.
Kondo is unilikely to be prosecuted since he was assassinated in April before he could talk. 死人に口なし: Dead men have no mouths. (Harlan Ellison would appreciate this saying.)
On April 27th, 2011, a Thai tour guide was arrested after he confessed to shooting to death one Japanese tourist and wounding another while they were trekking in northern Thailand. The two “tourists” are former yakuza members.
Apichart Inphisak, the 41-year-old guide, was arrested at a friend’s house 30 kilometers from Chiang Rai. The pistol he said he used to shoot the two Japanese was confiscated, according to local Thai press sources. Japanese police sources assert that the two Japanese individuals were both members of the Yamaguchi-gumi Goto-gumi. One of the individuals is believed to have involved in the murder of real estate agent, Nozaki Kazuoki, in 2006.
On conditions of anonymity, Japanese police sources said, “It’s clear that the two were assassinated on orders of former members of the Goto-gumi, possibly Goto himself. This makes prosecuting the case or taking it all the way up to the top extremely difficult.” The Thai English Newspaper, the Nation reported one of the victims as being “Takashi Kodo, age 44, of the Sedu-kai gang in Tokyo”. This was Kondo Takashi (近藤毅）of the Yamaguchi-gumi Yamaken-gumi Seiryukai. (山口組山健組誠竜会）which has 120 members. The Goto-gumi was closely tied to the Yamaken-gumi in the past. Other law enforcement sources place him as having been in the Yamaguchi-gumi Rachi-gumi Seiryukai (山口組良知組政竜会). Kondo was lured to Thailand from China where he had been in hiding. He allegedly was promised via a Goto emissary a new passport, a reward for keeping quiet, and a new life. He just ended up very dead. Police have confirmed that Kondo was the man killed. Local sources also note that the gun brought in by the Thai guide and the caliber of the bullet shot into Kondo don’t match. Further details are unavailable.
Earlier last month, the TMPD sent police officers to Thailand inquire into the death of Kondo and positively identify the body. The TMPD believe that Kondo may have been killed on Goto’s orders. The Tokyo Prosecutor’s Office is reconsidering charging Goto with murder based on circumstantial evidence alone and possibly newer evidence as well. Goto Tadamasa renounced his life of crime and became a Buddhist priest in 2009, and has been doing charitable acts. It may not be enough however to escape a lifetime of bad karma in the metaphysical world or justice in this world. Police sources note that Goto has been associating with a senior boss of the Kyushu Seido-kai (九州誠道会）and could possible be considering a return to organized crime.
Goto’s biography, 憚りながら (Habakarinagara) (Pardon me…but you’re wrong), was issued last year by Takarajima Publications last year and was a huge best-seller. In the book, Goto brags of his political connections and shows no remorse for the attacks his own gang members made on the film director Itami Juzo in 1992. Itami had made a movie, The Gentle Art of Japanese Extortion, (民暴の女) depicting the yakuza as a cancer on society and this had offended Goto. In the book Goto denied ordering the director to be attacked but praised the guts and initiative of his underlings who slashed up the face of the film director. Former Goto-gumi members also assert that Goto was responsible for later having the director killed, by forcing him to jump off a roof-top at gun-point as to make it appear as if he committed suicide. The Goto-gumi member believed to have done the killing, Takao Mikuni (三國孝雄) a Yamaguchi-gumi Goto-gumi Ishikawa-gumi Wakagashira, has been missing for two years. The last communication fellow gang member had with him was a cryptic conversation in which he said, “The old man (親父)is going to have me killed. I know too much.”
Itami’s wife is still under police protection. Whether Goto will be arrested for the murder of Mr. Nozaki or Mr. Kondo is an unknown. What is definitely known is that he is a major suspect in both murders. He was kind enough to also mention me in the book with an implied death threat, punctuated by a note that he was laughing while saying it, making it hard to prosecute as a threat.
On June 16th, rough 8:40 am, someone fired a shotgun into the construction schedule sign posted at the building mentioned above. The police are investigating on weapons violations charges. Law enforcement believes that Goto would not likely shoot up what is now his own property and that it may be a sign of anger from other Yamaguchi-gumi members for orchestrating the death of his former subordinate–if he did so.
Memo: I wil admit to lacking objectivity in this case. I believe that in one way or another, Tadamasa Goto bears responsibility for the death of two close friends, and his failure to show real repentance for the suffering he inflicted on innocent people during his career makes me doubt the sincerity of his religious conversion. As on priest put it, “滅罪なき懺悔は懺悔にならない”–There is no real repentance without acts of atonement.” Admittedly, unlike Shimada Shinsuke, according to police sources, Goto has used some of his ill gotten gains to build a very good school in Cambodia, improve the local infrastructure, and make it possible for almost 700 children to receive a decent education. Whether that obviates what he has done so far or allowed his gang members to do–that’s a question only Enma (閻魔)–the final Judge of the Dead can really answer.