Wanted Yakuza fugitive deported back to Japan
Shigeharu Shirai, a former member of a Yakuza gang and suspect for the murder of his nemesis, was deported to Japan last night.
The 74-year-old was arrested on Jan. 10 in the rural province of Lopburi, after Japanese authorities reportedly got a clue of Shirai’s whereabouts from viral photos of his impressive tattoos.
Shirai, a senior member of the Yakuza sub-gang Kodokai, had kept a low profile and hid in Thailand for over 13 years before being arrested. He stands accused of shooting dead a rival gang member, Kazuhiko Otoba, in Mie prefecture in 2003.
It was confirmed that Shirai is not suspected of any crimes in Thailand, according to a statement from the Thai police.
Shirai was escorted by Immigration Police to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport around 9pm yesterday, where he was handed over to the Japanese authorities.
Pol. Gen. Wirachai Songmetta, a deputy commander of Royal Thai Police, told reporters, “The Japanese authorities will further investigate who was the person that dictated the murder. As far as we know, the seven others who were convicted for the crime pointed at this man [Shigeharu Shirai] as the person who called [for the hit].”
“He [Shirai] admitted to having a conflict with the deceased and that his team had discussed getting rid of the victim, who was the second-in-command of the gang.”
For the murder, the seven accomplices were caught and imprisoned for between 12 and 17 years each.
While living in Thailand, Shirai reportedly worked general labor jobs for a living, such as painting houses and moving rice sacks. When he was arrested, Shirai was homeless and sleeping in a park near a Chinese shrine, where he helped with upkeep for a small wage.