Between late August and early September, the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan's largest yakuza syndicate, suddenly split into two groups, leading people to worry that the feud might lead to violent infighting.

But a police insider has all but brushed aside such fears, pointing out that the winner in this infighting will be determined not by guns and swords but by money. And well-positioned with a lot of money in hand is the Kodo-kai, a leading group within the Yamaguchi-gumi that has controlled the overall syndicate for more than a decade.

Shinobu Tsukasa, 73, whose real name is Kenichi Shinoda, has headed the Kodo-kai since 1984, and it was his talent for accumulating huge sums of money through various types of business that enabled him to become the sixth-generation leader of the parent Yamaguchi-gumi in 2005, according to a writer who has covered yakuza affairs for many years.