Photo/Illutration The Asahi Shimbun

Six prefectures plan to designate two organized crime gangs as “being involved in a turf war,” enabling police to more easily arrest rival yakuza mobsters and prevent further bloodshed.

The public safety commissions of the six prefectures in central and western Japan on Dec. 12 sent notices about the planned designation to the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest crime syndicate, and the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, which split from the Yamaguchi-gumi in August 2015.

Since that breakup, the gangs and their affiliates have been at each other’s throats. The attacks this year include the use of an assault rifle to fatally gun down a senior gangster in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, in November.

The public safety commissions working toward the designation are in Hyogo, Aichi, Gifu, Mie, Osaka and Kyoto prefectures.

The designation would allow police in those prefectures to quickly arrest gang members even if they have not committed a crime. For example, police could make arrests if five members of the same gang are gathered in a single location or if mobsters appear to be casing out the offices of a rival gang.

The Yamaguchi-gumi has related gangs in 43 of Japan’s 47 prefectures, while the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi has affiliated gangs in 32 prefectures, according to the National Police Agency.

Despite the wide reach of the two organizations, the decision was made to apply the special designation only in the six prefectures where the gangs have their headquarters or main offices. The prefectures are also where top gang bosses reside.

The two gangs are both headquartered in Kobe, the capital of Hyogo Prefecture.

The safety commissions disclosed that meetings with members of both gangs will be held between Dec. 20 and 25 to allow them to state their cases about the designation.

The commissions plan to designate the two gangs through a public announcement around Jan. 7. The designation is valid for three months, but it can be extended any number of times.

Once that announcement is made, the public safety commissions can designate municipalities where patrols of gang members will intensify.

Those municipalities will likely be areas where the two gangs have a heavy presence, such as Kobe, Amagasaki, Himeji and Awaji in Hyogo Prefecture, Osaka and Toyonaka cities in Osaka Prefecture, as well as the cities of Kyoto, Nagoya, Gifu, and Kuwana in Mie Prefecture.

Past designations have allowed police to clamp down on rival gangs and reduce the number of members.

The revised anti-organized crime control law that went into effect in October 2012 allowed public safety commissions to designate gangs for tougher control.

The revision came about because of a gang war that erupted in 2006 in Fukuoka Prefecture. A total of 47 yakuza-related incidents in four prefectures in Kyushu left 14 people dead, including a 34-year-old bystander who was mistakenly thought to be a gang member.

The two rival gangs, Dojin-kai and Kyushu Seido-kai, were given the special designation in December 2012. Since then, no violent incidents between the two gangs have been confirmed.

Four prefectural public safety commissions extended the designation five times.

The designation was lifted in June 2014 when the heads of the two gangs informed Fukuoka prefectural police that they had no intention of continuing the gang war.

The tougher measures led to decreases in the number of members of the two gangs.

Dojin-kai had about 720 members in late 2012 after it was given the special designation. By the end of 2014, the gang had only about 570 members.

Likewise, Kyushu Seido-kai, which is now known as Namikawa-kai, saw its membership drop from about 340 to about 250.