Woman files lawsuit against Japan’s largest yazuka group

A woman from the Nagoya district of Japan is to sue Kenichi Shinoda, the head of Japan‘s largest organised yazuka gang, according to local sources in the Japanese media.

The plaintiff, who wishes to remain anonymous, is filing a case against the chief of the Yamaguchi-gumi gang, claiming that one of Shinoda’s affiliate yazuka groups forced her to pay large sums of money in exchange for protection. According to the plaintiff’s lawyers, Shinoda is held accountable for the actions of his umbrella gangs. This is known as ’employer liability’, a term which has been applied to yazuka mobsters since an anti-organised crime law was amended in Japan in 2008, which decreed that heads of organisations can be held liable for damage and injury performed by its members and affiliate groups.

The umbrella group in question is the Inabaji Ikka group, a secondary organisation of the Yamaguchi-gumi, whose chief is Kodo-kai. The plaintiff is suing Shinoda for the sum of 17.35m yen (£115,000) as reimbursement and compensation for the expenditure she has been forced to make to Inabaki Ikka between 1998 and 2010. According to the woman, she was forced to pay monthly sums of 30,000-10,000 yen (between £200 and £650), and over the course of 13 years has paid a total of 10.85m yen (£72,000) to Inabaki Ikka, and, indirectly, the Yamaguchi-gumi.

In 2008, the woman attempted to stop paying the group, but was disallowed from doing so, with gang members allegedly threatening to set fire to her property should she withhold payment.

This is believed to be the first lawsuit of its kind in a country where yazuka gang members such as those of the Yamaguchi-gumi and Inabaji Ikka comprise over 40 per cent of Japan‘s organised crime gang members. Yazuka gangs are not illegal, but are thought to be heavily involved in a wide range of criminal activities, from drug dealing, to prostitution, to stock-market manipulation.

Sources include BBC, The Japan Daily Press

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