An elderly Japanese crime boss threatened a judge after being sentenced to death on Tuesday for ordering a murder and three other attacks.
Yakuza mafia mastermind Satoru Nomura, 74, told the judge: ‘you will regret this for the rest of your life’, after denying being behind the violent assaults on ordinary people.
Nomura, the head of the ‘Kudo-kai’ crime syndicate in the southwest of the country, was found guilty of the string of historic attacks, despite Japanese media suggesting there was a lack of evidence directly linking him to the crimes.
After Fukuoka District Court confirmed it had sentenced Nomura to death newspaper Nishinippon Shimbun reported that he said: ‘I asked for a fair decision… You will regret this for the rest of your life.’
The yakuza were long tolerated in Japan as a necessary evil for ensuring order and getting things done quickly – however dubious the means.
But stiffer anti-gang regulations, waning social tolerance and a weak economy have been attributed to a decline in membership in recent decades.
Nomura was found guilty of ordering the fatal 1998 shooting of an ex-boss of a fisheries cooperative who had influence over port construction projects, major media outlets said.
He was also blamed for a 2014 attack on a relative of the murder victim, and a 2013 knife attack against a nurse at a clinic where Nomura was seeking treatment, the court reportedly said.
The 2012 shooting of a former police official who had investigated the Kudo-kai was also deemed Nomura’s responsibility.
The official is said to have survived with serious injuries to his waist and legs.
Prosecutors reportedly argued that Nomura had exerted absolute control over the syndicate.
His second in command, Fumio Tanoue, was jailed for life on Tuesday, the court said.
The mafia group came to prominence amid the chaos of post-war Japan into a multi-billion-dollar criminal organisations, involved in everything from drugs and prostitution to protection rackets and white-collar crime.
Unlike the Italian Mafia or Chinese triads, yakuza have long occupied a grey area in Japanese society – they are not illegal, and each group has its own headquarters in full view of police.
With more than 100 inmates on death row, Japan is one of few developed nations to retain the death penalty.
Public support for capital punishment remains high despite international criticism, including from rights groups.