GREATER LIABILITY, NO PUBLIC WORKS CONTRACTS

Mob crackdown targets bosses, bidders

Kyodo News

The National Police Agency proposed Friday expanding the compensatory liability of mob bosses for damages their underlings cause and squeezing yakuza-linked construction firms out of the bidding process for public works projects, NPA officials said.

The yakuza crackdown comes on the heels of crimes stemming from battles among underworld groups facing financial difficulties, including the April assassination of Nagasaki Mayor Itcho Ito by a mobster.

National Public Safety Commission Chairman Shinya Izumi, a Cabinet minister supervising the police, presented the proposals at a ministerial meeting on crime prevention Friday morning.

The government will aim to revise the organized crime law during next year’s ordinary Diet session, the officials said.

Under the proposed revision, the representatives of designated organized crime syndicates would be held liable for damages claims linked to their underlings actions while engaged in fundraising activities and turf wars.

It marks an expansion of their responsibilities set by the previous amendment of the law in 2004, which only states they be liable for damages.

Except for some large yakuza groups that have ample funds to conduct business activities, most gangsters are making money mainly through such activities as drug-smuggling, gambling and other forms of vice, and are battling among themselves over turf.

Nagasaki Mayor Ito was shot by a financially troubled gangster who had falsely blamed the city and mayor for damage he claims were caused at a public road construction site.

The agency’s proposal also calls for strengthened control on mob involvement in bidding for public construction works. The agency hopes the tighter public works bidding curbs will help shut underworld-linked contractors out of the public works picture and cut off that source of funds.

The proposed law revision would also ban yakuza groups from promoting members who were convicted for shooting gangsters in turf wars and have returned to the fold after serving prison terms. The practice, still common, only sets off more violence, the NPA said.

Gun controls review

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda ordered his Cabinet Friday to formulate measures to reinforce the nation’s gun controls following the fatal shooting rampage on Dec. 14 in Nagasaki Prefecture, Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura said.

Following Fukuda’s order made during a ministerial meeting on fighting crime, National Public Safety Commission Chairman Shinya Izumi said he plans to conduct inspections on the management of 300,000 guns legitimately possessed in the country by 170,000 people.

“We must consider well whether there is a problem in the law itself or in the management. We need to deal with the issue appropriately for the big goal of creating a secure and safe society,” Machimura told reporters.

The top government spokesman said it is too early to conclude why the shooting occurred but it has so far brought up questions on gun and ammunition storage as well as on gun permits, which cannot easily be revoked once they are issued.

On Dec. 14, a man opened fire with a shotgun inside a sports club in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, killing two people and wounding six. He fled and was found dead the following day in an apparent suicide.

The 37-year-old suspect, Masayoshi Magome, held permits for three shotguns and an air gun.