One Piece voice actor arrested for obscene photos

Voice actor for the popular anime One Piece, Norio Imamura, was arrested July 12 for displaying photos of the lower half of his body on his blog. According to police, Imamura had spent between four and five million yen on tattoos over the past decade, and posted four photos of them that have been deemed obscene on his blog between April 26 and June 17. The actor reportedly testified, “They’re almost finished and I wanted to show them off to everyone.”

Along with voicing the character Emporio Ivankov on One Piece, Imamura is also active as a stage actor and runs a bar for tattoo enthusiasts in Shinjuku Ni-chome named “Bar Toh.”

Read the original story here.

License-less Yamaguchi-gumi tattoo artist arrested

A traditional tattoo artist, or horishi, was arrested July 10 for accepting money for tattoos without the proper medical license under violation of the medical practitioner’s law. The 36-year-old Hyogo-based horishi–who is believed to be a member of the Yamaguchi-gumi–reportedly admits to charges of giving two acquaintances tattoos at his home between May and August 2009 and accepting a total of ¥10,000 for the work. The tattoo artist had previously been indicted on charges of inflicting bodily injury.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, to put color into skin using tattooing techniques qualifies as a medical procedure, and accepting money without the proper licensing is prohibited by law. This is the first case in Japan of a tattoo artist being arrested for violation of the laws.

Read the original story here.

Kyoto yakuza arrested for attacking unmarked cop car

Officers in an unmarked police car ran into unexpected trouble June 8 when they were approached and harassed by three members of the Kyoto-based Aizukotetsu-kai, who believed the car belonged to a rival gang. According to reports, the officers were on patrol in a black sedan, and the 47-year-old kumicho and his two underlings were suspicious of the car when it repeatedly drove past the same spot a number of times. After chasing the car down, the three gang members began kicking the door and trying to pull the police sergeant out of the driver’s seat. When they saw the officers’ badges the yakuza stopped suddenly and mumbled that they had made a mistake, a shocked acknowledgement that didn’t prevent them from being arrested under the “Act on Punishment of Physical Violence and Others.”

Read the original story here.

Serial groper takes a tumble with victim

An Asaka city man was arrested after groping a female university student in the stairwell of her apartment building just after midnight on June 5. The 37-year-old man suddenly grabbed the student and began touching her, then the pair suddenly tripped and fell down a flight of stairs. According to police, the man admitted he had done wrong when questioned after the incident, but the woman could not be found and he was eventually released. The man was later arrested after the student submitted a complaint, testifying that he had committed similar acts several times in the past.

Read the original article here.

Tokyo committee aims towards establishing new anti-OG laws

July 5 saw the first session of a new committee of specialists set up by police with the aim of establishing new anti-organized crime laws. Authorities plan to hold another session at the end of this month and one more in September, ultimately proposing the new laws to the Tokyo Assembly next year.

Members of the committee include Tokyo Metropolitan University Law School professor and chairman Masahide Maeda, Adachi-ku mayor Yayoi Kondo, Gakushuin University professor Keiko Sakurai, and other lawyers and experts in organized crime and civil affairs.

At the start of the meeting, head of the anti-organized crime division Tetsuya Mori talked about how front companies run by organized crime groups threaten the safety of private citizens, and how he hoped the implementation of more effective laws would help protect Tokyo locals. Maeda said he hoped Tokyo would become a model for the eradication of organized crime.

Read the original article here.

Anticlimactic weekly roundup

Excuse us for the lull, but it was the sunniest Golden Week in 25 years, and while Jake was out doing the rounds in New England and soaking up more juicy content for a future report, the JSRC base back in Japan was getting our fill of vitamin D for the spring.

As the rest of the country was on vacation during the first half of the week, there was not a lot to be missed. And with the DOW and Greece pulling unforseen tricks out of their sleeves, the latter half will likely be spent avidly watching exchange rates and reading financial news.

Some tidbits:

The Financial Times drummed up some coverage on love hotel funds (perhaps spurred by the same weekly article we were), with super special obligatory commentary by foreign loveho tycoon Steve Mansfield.

In guffaw-worthy yakuza news, two Yamaguchi-gumi-affiliated Shouyuu-kai gang members were arrested Thursday for selling fake Viagra. Police say that the pair sold about 100 million yen of the stuff to around 7,000 wishful guys, and were outsted out by another group of three men who were arrested for the same crime in February.

A 63-year-old Yamaguchi-gumi boss is on the run after police issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of fraud and attempted fraud. The gangster rented a room in a municipal housing complex for two months under someone else’s name in order to take advantage of reduced rent for low-income earners. The boss weasled out of paying a total of 28,200 yen, and police suspect he may be involved in a conspiracy with two other rooms.

The manager of a delivery health shop in Gotanda went for a run himself and ended up with a broken foot during a robbery on Tuesday. He and a fellow employee were running from a man armed with a knife who had entered the shop late that night. The manager jumped through a window in an A-Team-worthy escape but broke his left foot when he landed. The robber got away without any cash.

And finally a video: “Yakuza’s Attempt at 早口言葉: Tounge-twisters in Kansai Dialect” (via @AdySan)

Not a good week for the big guys

The stolen Peko-chan mascots, from the Sankei News site
The stolen Peko-chan mascots, from the Sankei News site

In unusual yakuza-related news, April 23 saw the sentencing of an ex-Yamaguchi-gumi higher up for a crime that’s worth a chuckle. According to Sankei News, You Inaba, 43, was sentenced to six years in jail for stealing 10 “Peko-chan” statues from Fujiya stores between May 2008 and February 2009 in Wakayama, Osaka and other cities. When laying down the charges, prosecutors said that Inaba “has had a huge effect on society because of the character’s position as a national icon.” Inaba testified that he stole the small statues with plans to sell them to get money for “drugs and entertainment.” The dolls are estimated to be worth a total of ¥590,000. Business must have been slow…

Meanwhile, here in the Kanto area, FNN reports that four Inagawa-kai bosses were arrested for threatening a ramen cart owner for shobadai, or protection money, near Tokyo station in December of last year. The four testified that the cart owner had a bad attitude, and that they demanded ¥20,000 from him while yelling, “Don’t make fun of the yakuza!”

Japan author sues police over ban on 'yakuza' publications

Now that April Fool’s Day is finished (at least here in Japan), we can actually post some real news! Related to the article last week about convenience stores in Fukuoka agreeing to take yakuza fan publications off their shelves, one man in the industry has now taken action against the move, calling it censorship and complaining that it hurts his income:

Japan author sues police over ban on ‘yakuza’ publications

TOKYO: A Japanese author and son of a Yakuza gangster on Thursday filed a lawsuit against police in the country’s west for asking stores to take underworld comics and magazines off their shelves.

Crime writer Manabu Miyazaki argued that police in Fukuoka prefecture were suppressing free speech by asking stores not to sell manga comic books and magazines that describe the Japanese crime syndicates.

“I am an author,” the 64-year-old protested on his website. “I make money by writing and selling books.”

In his complaint with the Fukuoka District Court, Miyazaki said police had asked convenience stores to remove 73 comic books and three magazine titles from their shelves, and that many shops had following suit.

The police request meant to enforce an ordinance aimed at curtailing the influence of the yakuza, whose organisations are not banned under Japanese law and whose exploits are often the subject of manga comics and fan magazines.

The police list included a comic book based on a Miyazaki novel about the life of a yakuza man, said the author, who demanded 5.5 million yen (about 59,000 dollars) in damages from the regional government.

An officer at the Fukuoka police said they were aware of Miyazaki’s lawsuit but could not immediately comment on it.

Japan’s yakuza, whose members are known for cutting off their little fingers to atone for acts of disloyalty and mistakes, have long been active in gambling, loan sharking and money-laundering.

In April 2007, a gangster associated with Japan’s largest criminal syndicate, the Yamaguchi-gumi, shot dead the mayor of the city of Nagasaki. — AFP

His argument is akin to artists complaining that their albums aren’t sold at Walmart because of questionable material, and at the end of the day the “censorship” is voluntary so it’s debatable whether he has any footing at all. What I found most questionable was the article itself–even to introduce the yakuza to people who have no background knowledge about them, AFP could have done a little better than the last two sentences.

Click here to see the article on Yahoo! News.

Fukuoka convenience stores to remove yakuza mags

Fan magazines and comic books glorify the yakuza in Japan
Fan magazines and comic books glorify the yakuza in Japan

Fukuoka prefectural police requested March 25 that convenience stores in the prefecture no longer stock yakuza fan magazines. Four chains have already begun removing the products from their racks, while two more say they will do so beginning next month.The stores include Lawson, Family Mart, Mini Stop, Popular, Daily Yamazaki and Circle K Sankus.

According to police, a crime prevention group requested in December 2009 that convenience stores and book stores stop carrying the publications, citing that several monthly magazines “glamorize organized crime and may encourage youth to join the groups.”

Officials insist they do not intend to censor freedom of expression, and that the move is purely voluntary. Some warn, however, that the move opens the door for possible censorship in the future.

Read the original article here.

Yakuza cause stir at sumo match

The Mainichi reported on Jan. 26 about an uproar (if it can be called that) in the sumo world after Sumiyoshi-kai members were spotted occupying ringside tomari-seki seats at the New Year’s sumo tournament on Jan. 18 in Ryogoku, Tokyo.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police Department spotted the head of the gang affiliated with the Sumiyoshi-kai syndicate at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan on Jan. 18. He moved after being prompted to do so by one of the information desk staff.

The gang boss was sitting in one of the ringside guest seats on the south side of the ring. These seats are normally reserved for individuals and companies that have contributed a certain amount to the Japan Sumo Association (JSA), and are not on sale to the public.

Police told reporters an interesting tidbit of information as to why they want to keep the mob out of the arena:

暴力団関係者が維持員席での観戦にこだわる理由について、捜査幹部は「相撲中継は刑務所でも見ることができる。土俵に近い維持員席はテレビに映りやすく、自分の姿を見せて服役中の組員を勇気づける狙いがあるのでは」と分析する。

Investigators said they deny organized crime members access to seats for donators because they believe that, “Sumo is broadcast even in jail; by sitting close to the ring and appearing on TV, gang leaders hope to cheer up and show support to members that are serving time.”

(From the Japanese Mainichi article)

Authorities are currently negotiating with the JSA as to whether or not they can prohibit yakuza in the general admission seats as well.

Police and the Japan Sumo Association have been actively trying to oust the yakuza from sumo since last July, when authorities were shocked to see elder members of the Yamaguchi-gumi sitting ringside at a tournament in Nagoya. The JSA made their first-ever retaliation against the yakuza in September at the annual autumn tournament, posting a sign denying entry to organized crime members. In October the group ammended their contracts with seat holders, adding a clause that allowed them to terminate special seats of anyone found to be related to the yakuza.

With some appropriate timing, there’s currently another frenzy going on regarding ex-yokozuna Takanohana, now a JSA member, who is currently steeped on controversey after he announced his intention to run for the JSA board of directors and was tossed out of the Nishonoseki stable group. Recently, weekly photo magazine “Flash” published photos of Takanohana at an event in Kobe in August, 2008, sitting next to a “head of an organized crime group.” Takanohana told the press that he was “invited be long-time supporters, and went because it was a memorial service for those who died in the Kobe earthquake.”

More info at Nikkan Sports (Japanese only)