Friendly fire - Inagawa-kai faces Yamaguchi-gumi takeover
By Jake Adelstein and Sarah Noorbaksh
The death of Yoshio Tsunoda on 23 February marks the beginning of what may be a shift in the structure of Japan's criminal community. Since 2006, Tsunoda had been the head of the Inagawa-kai, Japan's third-largest criminal group, with an estimated 10,000 members. Although he had been the group's formal head for only a few years, he had overseen a strategic shift within the group towards greater co-operation with the Yamaguchi-gumi, the largest yakuza (criminal) group.
Since Tsunoda's death, the Yamaguchi-gumi has used its allies within the Inagawa-kai to put itself in a position of power. Kazuo Uchibori, the de facto successor to Tsunoda, is a key player in this scenario as he is a 'blood brother' (kyodaibun) to Takeuchi Teruaki, the number two of the Yamaguchi-gumi ruling faction, the Kodokai.
With Tsunoda dead, the Inagawa-kai is now likely to experience a struggle between factions loyal to the Yamaguchi-gumi and factions seeking to re-establish the group's independence. Given the extent to which it has infiltrated the Inagawa-kai, the Yamaguchi-gumi currently appears dominant, but the prospect of a split within the group could lead to gang violence, particularly if the Yamaguchi-gumi seeks to move the Inagawa-kai out of Tokyo.198 of 3265 words
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