The Japanese National Police Agency (NPA) recently declared two interesting things:
- There’s a Yakuza “war” on.
- They (the NPA) have a task force already established to “deal” with it.
This latest flare-up is between the branch group KOBE YAMAGUCHI-GUMI, and their trunk group, the YAMAGUCHI-GUMI. Both groups are based in the Kobe area of Hyogo Prefecture—down on the south side. The YAMAGUCHI-GUMI is the largest syndicate in the country, and went through their own growing pains several years ago. The offshoot ran a small portion of the larger group’s turf, in the Kobe area. A town called Awaji.
You may remember Kobe as the Japanese port city that got broken into tiny pieces in the ’90s by a huge earthquake. Where there are ports, there are Yak. Basic math.
The National Police define a gang war as any situation in which one gang reciprocates another gang’s shenanigans. This recent spool-up is the snowball of the KOBE offshoot’s split, and subsequent cyclic pattern of violence against their old bosses. And it all started last August.
The police response is actually the reason this only really hit the news yesterday. The publication of the establishment of a headquarters (task force) to track, respond to, and engage this growing shitshow is what brought all this to international attention. The NPA has also issued orders out to all the prefectural and major municipal popos to establish some mirror of the NPA task force. Any place with Yak will have already had those dudes set up. It looks like the major difference is that those units will now be shredding out personnel to engage specifically in intelligence gathering. Nice.
Recent open violence between the two groups, various subsidiaries, and a few adjacent allies has escalated to such a degree that jokers are tossing Molotov cocktails at each other. Forty-nine open reports so far indicate the following craziness:
- 4 incidents involving firearms (which we all know you can’t even get in Japan)
- 3 Molotov incidents
- 9 incidents involving some low-level choad driving his car through the front door of some rival HQ
- A bunch of other random harsh-language exchanges, and someone getting roughed up
The aggressor breakdown looks like the offshoots attacked their old bosses 21 times out of the reported 49. The old bosses struck the newbs 19 of those 49. Your math will then lead you to asking about the remaining few reported attacks. Four were “random” and involved both gangs, with no clear aggressor. Five involved people with no clear affiliation.
There are still incidents that have not been processed, so the numbers and other details are still out. I’m on the pulse, so those details—as I get them—will be forthcoming.
These guys are all futzing around outside of my standard AOR J-side. But Kobe’s a nice place, and I like to go there as often as possible. Therefore, I try to keep abreast of things that are going on there. The NPA is calling this a “nationwide gang war,” but honestly, the only one of those words that even remotely fits at the moment is “gang.” Unless you’ve got guys Highlandering each other in back alleys, or dudes getting gunned down in broad daylight in a combini, I personally don’t consider it a “war.” And that shit has happened. I guess I just run at a higher standard.
And in terms of the popo calling it nationwide, all of this will occur at the Kobe end of the Kinki District (which insludes Osaka, to the east). It’s hardly nationwide as of yet.
More to follow.
(Featured image courtesy of publicbroadcasting.net)