Japanese court sentences yakuza boss to death for the first time in history

Yakuza boss, Kudo-kai head Satoru Nomura

A court in Japan issued a historic ruling by sentencing a Yakuza boss to death on Aug. 24 for his alleged involvement in four assaults, which killed one of the victims.

The case: The public hearing linked Kudo-kai head Satoru Nomura, 74, and his second-in-command Fumio Tanoue, 65, to the civilian attacks purportedly carried out by Kudo-kai members, reported Mainichi

  • The Kudo-kai members who executed the attacks and others involved were convicted earlier.
  • Both Nomura and Tanoue were accused of murder and violation of the anti-organized crime law in the civilian attacks.
  • The Fukuoka District Court sentenced Nomura to death and Tanoue to life imprisonment.
  • In addition to Tanoue’s life sentence, prosecutors reportedly also demanded a 20 million yen ($182,000) fine, but it was rejected.
  • The decision marked the first time the boss of a designated organized crime syndicate in Japan was given the death sentence. 
  • Nomura’s sentencing could dictate similar outcomes in future crime group investigations.

Nomura’s threats: Presiding Judge Ben Adachi, who determined Nomura was “involved as a mastermind” in all four cases, reportedly received a direct threat from the crime syndicate leader immediately after handing out the decision.

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  • “I asked for a fair decision…You will regret this for the rest of your life,” Nomura told the judge.
  • Local media noted that the verdict was given despite there being a lack of direct evidence linking Nomura to the crimes.
  • In their not-guilty pleas, their defense claimed that the involvement of Nomura and Tanoue should not be assumed from indirect evidence, reported the Japan Times.
  • Adachi, however, ruled that the Kudo-kai and Nomura’s motives and collusion with the group members were established in three of the four attacks.

Justifying the verdict: The ruling pointed to the Kudo-kai’s interests in a port construction that allegedly led to both the fatal shooting of a former fishermen’s union chief in 1998 and the stabbing of a dentist and a nurse, the latter whose services he was allegedly dissatisfied with, between 2012 and 2014.

  • While the court did not determine the motive for the shooting of a former police inspector, the court based its decision on the “Kudo-kai’s strong organizational structure in which superiors’ orders must be followed.”
  • “There can be no extenuating circumstances for the motives and circumstances of the organization’s attack on the regular citizens, who weren’t at fault,” Adachi was quoted as saying. “The criminal responsibility is so serious that the choice of capital punishment is unavoidable.”
  • Both defendants’ lawyers are reportedly planning to file an appeal.

Regarded as the largest yakuza mafia in the Kitakyushu area, Kudo-kai is known for adopting a military-style approach by using high-powered weapons, such as machine guns and hand grenades, in their activities, reported Sky News.

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