Photo/Illutration Tomoshi Okuda, president of Hoboku, explains about the “Kibo no Machi” project planned on the former site of the Kudo-kai headquarters at a news conference in Kita-Kyushu on April 28. Adviser Atsuko Muraki participates through a videoconference. (Ryo Sasaki)

KITA-KYUSHU--A nonprofit group here plans to help poor individuals, troubled children and elderly people at a site that used to house the headquarters of one of the most violent yakuza organizations.

The Hoboku group announced in April that it had obtained ownership of the land once occupied by the Kudo-kai crime syndicate.

Under the “Kibo no Machi” (Town of hope) project, two buildings will be erected for workers of a new social welfare corporation that will start offering services for all generations in April 2023.

Local resident representatives will be allowed to join to refine the project and promote the planned facility as a model of a community-wide campaign to reinforce well-being.

“Social vulnerabilities surfaced (during the new coronavirus pandemic),” Tomoshi Okuda, president of Hoboku, said at a news conference. “It is time for us to think of ideal society and communities in this challenging age. We will create a town where one can ask for help and live easily. I want you all to join us to develop such a place.”

Atsuko Muraki, a former administrative vice labor minister who serves as an adviser for the project, described the plan as “drawing attention from across Japan.”

“I will call on more people to provide their support for the project,” Muraki said in a videoconference.

According to Hoboku and other sources, the 1,750-square-meter site is in a residential area 1.7 kilometers from JR Kokura Station. The yakuza main office building has been demolished.

The land was sold to Fukuoka Prefecture’s violence eradication campaign promotion center for 100 million yen ($940,000) in November, and then resold to a company in the prefecture. Hoboku purchased it from the business.

Hoboku received 130 million yen in loans from financial institutions to obtain the land and is now soliciting donations to pay off the debt and construct new buildings.

Hoboku, designated as a nonprofit organization in 2000, is the successor to a group established in 1988 in Kita-Kyushu to help homeless individuals.

The NPO provides comprehensive well-being programs: distributing food; finding homes and jobs; offering welfare services for children, elderly people and those with disabilities; and helping former inmates readjust to society.

(This article was written by Ryo Sasaki and Kazuki Nunota.)