• Kyodo


Seven men wanted by police in connection with the fatal beating of a 31-year-old restaurateur in September 2012 at a Roppongi nightclub turned themselves in Friday morning and several were later arrested, police said.

The move follows Thursday’s arrest of eight men, including Taichi Ishimoto, 31, former leader of the now-defunct motorcycle gang Kanto Rengo who is currently on trial for fraud, and other ex-members.

Two others, a 33-year-old former Kanto Rengo member who is considered the ringleader and another man, have fled overseas.

They all face an initial charge of unlawful assembly with weapons, apparently metal bats.

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 suspects, who are in their 20s and 30s, are technically suspected of gathering 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 dining at the nightclub with a friend.

The MPD obtained arrest warrants for 17 men after analyzing security camera pictures taken near the crime scene and voluntarily questioning those close to Kanto Rengo.

Police have disclosed security camera pictures to the public.

Seven of the 17 men fled to China and Southeast Asia shortly after the slaying. The Foreign Ministry had ordered them to surrender their passports. Five among the seven returned to Japan via South Korea on Thursday and were arrested along with three others who were still in Japan.

Investigators believe nine of the 17 suspects, including the five arrested Thursday, were the ones who actually beat Fujimoto to death with the metal bats.

Police have yet to reveal the names of the 16 other suspects, including the eight collared Thursday, claiming doing so may complicate their investigation.

Fujimoto may have been mistaken for another man who may have been at the club at the time, police 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.

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