Kiyoshi Takayama, the second most powerful gangster in Japan, and for years the de facto head of the Yamaguchi-gumi (39,000 members) will be released for the remainder of his extortion trial at a bail set at 1.5 billion yen. The Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s top yakuza group, is already said to have collected the bail money. It is not known where the money was collected but probably not from a celebrity auction or nationwide lemonade sales. Mr. Takayama is being given bail due to his poor physical condition. Last year, Shinobu Tsukasa, the current head of the Yamaguchi-gumi was released from prison after serving a long sentence for violations of the firearms and swords control act. Mr. Takayama, as head of the Yamaguchi-gumi faction, the Kodo-kai, led the organization for several years, but his antagonistic polices towards the authorities and the use of private detectives by the Kodo-kai to gather information on police officers, journalists, lawyers, activists and other enemies of the group resulted in a major police crackdown, starting in 2009.
In September of 2009, the acting head of Japan’s National Police Agency announced that all the police in Japan needed to focus on destroying the Yamaguchi-gumi Kodo-kai—not the entire Yamaguchi-gumi per se, but the Kodo-kai faction. At its peak, the Kodo-kai had 4,000 members, making one out of every ten Yamaguchi-gumi members a Kodo-kai soldier. Mr. Takayama has a reputation as a cunning and ruthless leader–and his release from jail may not be a cause for rejoicing among some yakuza groups. There have been rumors circulated that Mr. Takayama will be released on the condition that he dismantle the Kodo-kai organization, but those rumors are not confirmed.
The most authoritative book on the two heads of the Yamaguchi-gumi, is Tsukasa Shinobu Kumicho to Takayama Kiyoshi Wakagashira no Roku-dai-me Yamaguchi-gumi (司忍組長と高山清司若頭の六代目山口組）by Atsushi Mizoguchi, originally published in 2007. It’s not available in English but worth reading if you’re interested in Japanese organized crime and reasonably competent in Japanese.