Two men linked to the same gang died Sunday after being stabbed in Tokyo and Saitama Prefecture and another gangster was shot to death in what police suspect is a war between two crime organizations.
The two men stabbed to death belonged to the Iijima-kai group, based in Taito Ward, Tokyo.
Investigators suspect the incidents were in retaliation for the stabbing death Friday in Obihiro, Hokkaido, of a gangster linked to the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest crime syndicate, by a yakuza affiliated with the Iijima-kai.
Hiroyuki Suzuki, 29, of the Iijima-kai, died after three men stabbed him on a street in Koto Ward, Tokyo, at 1 p.m.
Takeo Sakuma, 66, a street vendor who also was a senior member of a Iijima-kai-affiliated gang, died after he was found with knife wounds at 7:15 a.m. on a riverbank in the city of Saitama.
Suzuki was assaulted in a residential area about 200 meters from Ojima Station on the Toei Shinjuku subway line.
Police quoted witnesses as saying the assailants fled in a silver Mercedes after stabbing Suzuki in the abdomen.
One of the assailants appeared to be in his 30s, about 170 to 180 cm tall and was wearing a dark blue work outfit, while another was wearing black clothing, according to police.
A man was shot on a street in the Higashi-Ikebukuro area of Tokyo’s Toshima Ward at about 4 p.m. and died hours later.
Police identified the victim as Hikaru Ueda, 37, a member of another crime group, the Kyokuto-kai. Investigators suspect he was shot after his assailant mistook him for an Iijima-kai member because the two groups have offices in the same building.
A man who lives near the scene of the Toshima Ward shooting said he heard several gunshots. According to the witness, four to five people from a nearby yakuza office gathered around Ueda, collapsed on the ground, some of them shouting, “The boss was shot!”
Separately, two other people were shot and injured in Saitama and Tochigi prefectures in what police suspect were also part of the war between the Yamaguchi-gumi and Iijima-kai.
In Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture, a 74-year-old street vendor sustained injuries in his right leg when he was shot in the morning by a man at the entrance of his home.
In Sano, Tochigi Prefecture, a 32-year-old street vendor was shot in the afternoon and suffered injuries to his legs and shoulders.
The Iijima-kai has about 500 members in Tokyo. Its main source of income comes from proceeds from sales by street vendors, according to the police.
Separately, six shots were fired at the home of Chikara Kinoshita, 57, the head of a group belonging to the Iijima-kai, in Saitama city. There were nobody at Kinoshita’s house at the time of the shooting, but police later found bullet pockmarks on the front gate of the house and five spent cartridges on a nearby street.
The police also arrested five men Sunday on suspicion of attempting to abduct a former Iijima-kai member from his home in Kisarazu, Chiba Prefecture, on Saturday.