Shimada also wrote about his gratitude to the gang member for having placed expensive orders at a bar he runs, according to a source close to the Yamaguchi-gumi. At one point, Hashimoto and six of his underlings visited Shimada’s bar and paid for the evening by leaving a stack of bills, wrapped neatly in a bow, on the counter totaling ¥1 million ($13,000).
Shimada himself has a criminal history of assault. In 2004, he dragged a 40-year-old female employee into his dressing room by her hair, and slapped her repeatedly. She had failed to show him the proper respect, he would later explain. He was summarily prosecuted and ordered to pay a fine. And his organized crime ties appear to be the reason for his current troubles. In fact, Japanese police sources, speaking on grounds of anonymity, say, “We have considered Shimada Shinsuke to be an associate member of the Yamaguchi-gumi for several years. He has invoked the name of the Kyokushin Rengo to menace people and in business dealings, possibly without the group’s knowledge. In our eyes, we have more respect for Hashimoto than Shimada. At least Hashimoto doesn’t beat up women.”
According to organized crime group members, the emails recently surfaced because Shimada made the mistake of angering former Yamaguchi-gumi crime boss, Goto Tadamasa, who obtained the mails and released them to the press. Goto was once the most powerful crime boss in Tokyo, but was kicked out of the Yamaguchi-gumi in October of 2008, because he had previously called unwanted attention to the group by hosting an elaborate birthday party attended by Japanese celebrities. News had also broken that he had made a deal with the FBI to obtain a visa into the United States, where he received a liver transplant at UCLA. “Shimada was looked after by Goto-kumicho in the past,” said a former gang member. “But after he fell from power, Shimada insulted him by referring to Goto-san without any honorific in conversations with others, as just Goto.” In Japan, referring to an individual with no honorific is called yobisute and is considered highly rude and insolent.
In May of 2009, Goto wrote in his best-selling autobiography Habakarinagara (憚りながら) that Shimada was “nothing more than a tiny chinpira”—slang for the lowest and stupidest members of the yakuza. On March 15 this year, Goto’s publisher Takarajima released another book, an anthology by several authors called Heisei Nihon Tabu Daizen (平成日本タブー全) in which Atsushi Mizoguchi, Japan's most well-known yakuza writer devotes a chapter on Shimada’s cozy relationships with gang boss Hashimoto. The release of the text messages to the press was Goto’s parting shot at Shimada, say police sources and former Yamaguchi-gumi members. Goto himself is under investigation for the 2006 murder of a real estate agent and has been cooperating with the police in the investigation of Shimada’s organized crime ties, perhaps in an attempt to get more lenient treatment in his own investigation. One former member of his group was already convicted for the murder and is serving jail time. Another member of the group involved in the killing who was under an international arrest warrant, Takashi Kondo, was shot and killed in Thailand in April of this year. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department sent officers to Thailand to investigate the possibility that Goto had his former subordinate assassinated. As the Japanese say, “The dead have no mouths.”