Sunday, February 7, 2016

Yakuza and The Tokyo Olympics

Hidetoshi Tanaka the Vice-chairman of 2020 Olympics seated with Yakuza head

 Hidetoshi Tanaka (left), the chief director of Japan University and the vice chairman of Japan's Olympic Committee. Sitting next to Tanaka is Shinobu Tsukasa, the head of Japan's largest yakuza [organized crime] syndicate, the Yamaguchi-gumi.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are predicted to cost at least $5 billion. That means there's a lot of money to be made in construction. 

According to police and other sources, a reporter for Keiten Shimbun attempted to seek clarification from Japan University and Tanaka about when the photo was taken and what Tanaka's current relationship, if any, is to the Yamaguchi-gumi. On the night of September 30, as the reporter was walking back to the newspaper office, he was assaulted by two men with metal baseball bats who struck him repeatedly in one place on his body. A police source said they will not specify the location of the injury "because it's something only the assailant would know, and we wish to weed out possible false confessions."

The day after the assault, almost every major media organization in Japan received threatening phone calls from people telling them not to publish the photo. One magazine editor, who spoke to VICE News on the condition of anonymity, said the threat was, "'We attacked Keiten Shimbun. If you get uppity and publish that photo of those two, you'll meet the same fate.'"

More than a month later, the photo remained unpublished. (VICE News is the first outlet to publish the photo.) However, Keiten Shimbun did publish another photo of Tanaka toward the end of October. In that photo (below), from sometime in 2004, Tanaka is pictured with another senior member of the Yamaguchi-gumi named Iwao Yamamoto, who was once close to Tsukasa. Yamamoto shot himself in front of the grave of his predecessor in December 2010.

Tanaka with Iwao Yamamoto, Yakuza head

 "Whether or not he (Tanaka) still has associations with Yamaguchi-gumi members is something under review," said an official at the National Police Agency. "Under the Tokyo Organized Crime Control Exclusionary Ordinances, such ties would be illegal."

Tanaka has a history of shady associations. A photo of him (below) was taken at a party commemorating the promotion of gang boss Hareaki Fukuda to chairman of the Sumiyoshi-kai crime group - a rival of the Yamaguchi-gumi - in September 1998 at the New Otani hotel in Tokyo. Tanaka allegedly went to the party to congratulate Fukuda. (Sumiyoshi-kai sources say that sometime around 2003, Tanaka began to associate more closely with the Yamaguchi-gumi.)

Jake Adelstein

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