Eight men were arrested Thursday in Tokyo and face an initial charge of unlawful assembly with weapons, apparently metal bats, in connection with the fatal beating of a 31-year-old restaurateur in September 2012 at a Roppongi nightclub, police said.
The suspects include members of the now-defunct motorcycle gang Kanto Rengo. Metropolitan Police Department investigators plan to question the suspects over the murder of Ryosuke Fujimoto, who was beaten to death with metal bats by 17 masked men at the nightclub, which earlier reports said was named Flower.
The eight men, who are in their 20s and 30s, are technically suspected of gathering with nine other men with metal bats, deemed in this case to be “weapons,” near the nightclub in the Roppongi entertainment district early on the morning of Sept. 2. Specific charges of murder apparently have yet to be pressed.
Shortly afterward, Fujimoto, possibly a target of mistaken identity, was beaten to death while he was at the nightclub with a friend.
The MPD obtained arrest warrants for 17 men, including former Kanto Rengo leader Taichi Ishimoto, 31, who is currently on trial for fraud.
Seven of the 17 men fled overseas shortly after the slaying. The Foreign Ministry had ordered them to surrender their passports. Five among the seven returned to Japan from South Korea on Thursday and were arrested along with three others who were still in Japan.
Police have yet to reveal the names of the 16 other suspects, including the eight collared Thursday, claiming that doing so may complicate their investigation.
Fujimoto may have been mistaken for another man who may have been at the nightclub at the time, police have said, without elaborating.
The Penal Code sets penalties of imprisonment for up to two years or a fine of up to ¥300,000 for people who assemble with “weapons” for the purpose of jointly harming someone or someone’s property.