THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
January 15, 2021 at 17:22 JST
FUKUOKA--Prosecutors here are taking the unusual step of seeking the death sentence against the head of an organized crime syndicate often described as the most violent in Japan.
Satoru Nomura, 74, the head of the Kudo-kai gang, is on trial for four separate incidents at the Fukuoka District Court. On Jan. 14, the Fukuoka District Public Prosecutors Office asked the court to hand down the death sentence for Nomura.
The decision to do so is unusual as only one individual died in the four incidents, and there is no solid evidence directly linking Nomura to the murder.
Prosecutors argued that while gang underlings may have been the ones who actually carried out the various crimes, as the head of an organization in which the boss’s orders were absolute, Nomura held the ultimate responsibility and should pay for the crimes with his life.
Prosecutors described the four incidents as “unprecedented in the extremely egregious nature of the crimes carried out by organized gangs.”
Nomura’s second-in-command, Fumio Tanoue, 64, is also on trial. Prosecutors are seeking a life sentence for him along with a fine of 20 million yen ($193,000).
A major factor behind the decision to pursue the death sentence for Nomura is that none of the victims in the four incidents had connections to rival gangs.
Prosecutors tried to paint a picture of the victims facing the wrath of a gang leader who could both hold a grudge for a long time as well as become enraged at what appears to be a minor incident.
The two defendants have denied all the charges against them.
Prosecutors used two of the incidents to show how Nomura directed violence against those who did not bend to his will.
The first incident originated with his desire to get his hands on economic interests held by a fishery cooperative.
A former leader of a local fishery cooperative was gunned down on the streets of Kita-Kyushu in February 1998. The shooting was seen as an attempt to apply pressure on family members who controlled the economic interests.
When they failed to give in to his demands, prosecutors said Nomura ordered underlings to go after another family member 16 years later. That led to the May 2014 stabbing in Kita-Kyushu of a male dentist who just happened to be a relative, but had no direct connection to the fishery cooperative.
The second incident occurred when Nomura, annoyed by the attitude of a female nurse at a medical clinic where he was seeking treatment, ordered subordinates to stab her, according to prosecutors.
Nomura is also on trial over the shooting of a former Fukuoka prefectural police officer, an obvious attempt to apply pressure on law enforcement.
Defense lawyers were scheduled to present their final arguments on March 11 and a verdict will likely be handed down after this summer.
Visit this page for the latest news on Japan’s battle with the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Cooking experts, chefs and others involved in the field of food introduce their special recipes intertwined with their paths in life.
Here is a collection of first-hand accounts by “hibakusha” atomic bomb survivors.
The Asahi Shimbun aims “to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” through its Gender Equality Declaration.
Let’s explore the Japanese capital from the viewpoint of wheelchair users and people with disabilities with Barry Joshua Grisdale.