Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

THE YAKUZA

New Chapter - The "Loanshark King"

On August 5, 2003, the Mainichi Shimbun news agency reported that Japanese police had launched a nationwide search for the man who oversaw a number of loansharks "falling under the umbrella of the Yamaguchi-gumi," Japan's largest yakuza gang.

The report described how Susumu Kajiyama, the chairman of the TO Group of Yamaguchi-gumi affiliated loansharks, had been placed on a nationwide wanted list after being accused of breaking investment laws.   Kajiyama is referred to as the "Loanshark King."   Until the spring of this year, the 53-year-old yakuza gang boss had been living in a Minato-ku apartment where the monthly rent ran into a staggering 900,000 yen-plus figure.  Police suspect Kajiyama diverted a considerable sum to the Goryo-kai, a Yamaguchi-gumi affiliate linked closely to the TO Group.

Case investigators are looking into the TO Groups activities and suspect that it is involved in large scale, organized loans given with extortionate rates of interest.  The actions followed a series of police raids of a dozen locations, including the Tokyo office of the Goryo-kai.

Another man, Toshikazu Matsuzaki, has already been arrested for the same crime.

Police said that Matsuzaki and his associates extended 49 loans amounting to just 526,000 yen to six people, then collected an astounding 1.25 million yen in interest and on occasions charged over 380 times the legally acceptable limit.  According to the police, the interest that Yakuza debt-collectors picked up had to be transferred to stores run directly by the underworld group or to three bank accounts in the names of bosses running loanshark operations.

Allegedly, once every month, Matsuzaki would meet with the bosses of the gang's loanshark operations and "demand that they increase business."  Each loanshark operation is alleged to have picked up about 300 million yen in interest annually.

Investigators later found over 8 million yen in cash in an apartment where Matsuzaki had been hiding until his arrest. Police also seized another 20 million yen in cash that had been secreted away in a safety deposit box held in a Toshima-ku credit union.

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