• Kyodo


Osaka police arrested a senior member of the major underworld syndicate Yamaguchi-gumi as well as a mob-connected former world champion boxer on suspicion of fraud for allegedly playing golf by concealing their gangland status in violation of ordinances.

Arrested were Hirofumi Kyo, 65, a senior Yamaguchi-gumi gangster, Jiro Watanabe, 57, who once held the world super flyweight boxing title and is a senior member of a group affiliated with the Kobe-based syndicate, and another yakuza figure who was not identified.

The police said the three played together at a golf course in Osaka Prefecture in March last year after hiding that they were gangsters.

The golf course bans yakuza, they said, adding Kyo has kept silent and Watanabe has denied he is a mobster.

Police have recently been cracking down on mobsters who play at golf courses that ban yakuza. There have been cases in which prosecutors have been unable to establish criminal cases against mobsters who were unaware of local ordinances banning them, and others in which at the district court level gangsters were found not guilty.

Kyo and Watanabe are known to have had friendly ties with TV celebrity Shinsuke Shimada, 56, who retired from the entertainment industry last year over his ties with the underworld.

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