Satoru Nomura, the 74-year-old head of the ‘Kudo-kai’ crime syndicate in southwest Japan, denied accusations of ordering violent assaults.
A Japanese court has sentenced a yakuza mafia boss to death after he ordered a murder and attacks on three other citizens.
Satoru Nomura, the 74-year-old head of the “Kudo-kai” crime syndicate in southwest Japan, denied accusations he had masterminded the violent assaults on members of the public.
Fukuoka District Court confirmed it had sentenced Nomura to death on Tuesday, while Japanese media said the verdict came despite a lack of evidence directly linking him to the crimes.
“I asked for a fair decision … You will regret this for the rest of your life,” Nomura told the judge after his sentencing, according to the Nishinippon Shimbun newspaper.
The yakuza mafia was long tolerated in Japan as a necessary evil for ensuring order on the streets and getting things done quickly, however dubious the means.
But in recent decades, stiffer anti-gang regulations, waning social tolerance and a weak economy have resulted in steadily falling yakuza memberships.
Nomura was found guilty of ordering the fatal 1998 shooting of an ex-boss of a fisheries cooperative who exerted influence over port construction projects, large media outlets said.
He was also behind a 2014 attack on a relative of the murder victim and a 2013 knife attack against a nurse at a clinic where Nomura was seeking treatment, the court reportedly said.
The 2012 shooting of a former police officer who had investigated the Kudo-kai was also deemed Nomura’s responsibility.
The official survived with serious injuries to his waist and legs, media said.
Prosecutors reportedly argued that each of the four incidents was a coordinated attack by the Kudo-kai, with Nomura as the mastermind and his deputy, Fumio Tanoue, approving the acts through the gang’s chain-of-command structure.
Tanoue was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday, the court said. Tanoue denied the allegations.
According to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, Tanoue also told the judge: “You are awful, Mr Adachi”, as he left the courtroom.
The court also sought a fine of 20 million yen ($182,200) on Nomura and Tanoue.
The yakuza grew from the chaos of post-war Japan into multibillion-dollar criminal organisations, involved in everything from drugs and prostitution to protection rackets and white-collar crime.
Unlike the Italian mafia or Chinese triads, yakuza have long occupied a grey area in Japanese society – they are not illegal, and each group has its own headquarters in full view of police.
With more than 100 inmates on death row, Japan is one of few developed nations to retain the death penalty.
Public support for capital punishment remains high despite international criticism, including from rights groups.