TOKYO ― These days the price of a standard civilian hit-job can run as high as $2 million. That’s not the price to get the job done―that’s the price if one of your underlings gets caught. The whole inflationary spiral started with one dumb yakuza stiffing McDonald’s on the price of a cheeseburger in Kyoto a few years ago.
The Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest organized crime group with 39,000 members and their notorious former underboss Tadamasa Goto (at left, from a 2005 video of a Yamaguchi-gumi celebration) are expected to reach a settlement this month with the family of a civilian killed in 2006. The surviving family members, represented by a group of 25 lawyers, filed the lawsuit last month, asking for ¥187 million in damages, or $2.4 million.
A potential key witness to the murder was extradited from Thailand on Thursday and arrested on the plane back to Japan―on charges of driving without a license―by Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department detectives, who were waiting on the plane. The police also plan to question him about the killing and, of course, his lack of respect for Japan’s rules of the roads.
The arrest has made all parties involved with the murder anxious to sweep the case under the table. Goto, former head of the disbanded Yamaguchi-gumi Goto-gumi, who has never faced any criminal charges for ordering the hit, is desperate to avoid being tried in civil court, and said to be willing to cut a deal. However, it's the current “CEO” of the Yamaguchi-gumi, Shinobu Tsukasa shown at right, who has the most to lose. At the time of the murder, he was in jail on gun possession charges, had no knowledge of the plan, and did not approve it, is not very happy to be cleaning up the mess. He doesn’t want to pay for a crime he didn’t commit or condone. Naturally. The whole thing is bad for business and terrible PR. It really damages the Yamaguchi-gumi corporate brand. And if the lawsuit actually goes to court, it could be a very bad legal precedent for “Yakuza Inc.”