Photo/Illutration Police officers enter a building in Kobe related to the Yamaguchi-gumi organized crime syndicate, the site of a shooting on Aug. 22. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

KOBE--Hyogo prefectural police said Dec. 4 they have arrested a gang leader on suspicion of attempting to murder a rival mobster in an apparent retaliatory attack in the ongoing yakuza war in western Japan.

Hiroji Nakata, the head of the Yamaken-gumi, a core group under the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, is also suspected of illegal possession of weapon.

According to investigative sources, Nakata, 60, has remained silent about the allegations.

His arrest stems from an incident that occurred around 6:15 p.m. on Aug. 21 in front of the Kobe office of the Kodo-kai, a Nagoya-based gang under the umbrella of the Yamaguchi-gumi, the largest crime syndicate in Japan.

A man on a motorcycle shot a 51-year-old member of a Kodo-kai affiliated gang in the stomach and other body parts when he returned to the building by car after shopping. He needed six months to recover from his wounds.

Police used security camera footage to trace the shooting to Nakata.

In April, on a street in a shopping area of Kobe, a member of a Kodo-kai affiliated gang stabbed a high-ranking member of the Yamaken-gumi.

Police suspect Nakata planned and conducted the shooting in August to take revenge for the stabbing.

The Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi splintered from the Yamaguchi-gumi in 2015, triggering a series of bloody attacks between the rival gangs.

A security camera near the August attack captured footage of the shooter wearing a helmet and fleeing on a black motorcycle.

The motorcycle believed to be the one in the recording was found abandoned about 600 meters from the crime scene.

About 2.5 kilometers southwest of the site of the shooting, a white motorcycle also believed to have been used by the shooter was discovered in a parking lot.

The parking lot is located near Nakata’s house, and security camera footage showed the suspect heading toward his home.