Satoru Nomura, head of the Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture-based Kudo-kai -- the only designated dangerous crime syndicate in Japan -- and second-in-command Fumio Tanoue, who were accused of murder and violation of the anti-organized crime law in four attacks on civilians, were respectively sentenced to death and life imprisonment by the Fukuoka District Court in an Aug. 24 public hearing.
Prosecutors had demanded the death penalty for 74-year-old Nomura and a life sentence and a fine of 20 million yen (roughly $182,000) for Tanoue, 65. It is apparently the first case in which the boss of a designated organized crime syndicate has been handed the death sentence, and may affect future investigations of such crime groups.
After the two were handed their sentences, Nomura said to Presiding Judge Ben Adachi, "I asked you to make a fair decision. I heard you became a judge in Tokyo, huh?" to which Tanoue added, "You're a terrible person, Mr. Adachi." Nomura then said, "You'll regret this for the rest of your life."
Adachi recognized that Nomura was "involved as a mastermind" in all four cases, using the organizational strength and the chain of command at Kudo-kai as well as its second-tier affiliates. The presiding judge pointed out that "there can be no extenuating circumstances for the motives and circumstances of the organization's attack on the regular citizens, who weren't at fault," and concluded, "The criminal responsibility is so serious that the choice of capital punishment is unavoidable."
Adachi also found Tanoue to have been "deeply involved in the decision-making process leading to the crime" along with Nomura, and judged that a "fixed-term sentence is too light."
In all four cases, Kudo-kai members who executed the attacks and others involved had already been convicted, and in the absence of evidence showing that the two defendants directly ordered the attacks, the main focus was on whether collusion between the pair and the group members would be established.
The ruling pointed out that of the four cases, Kudo-kai and Nomura's motives were established in three of them -- the shooting of a former fishermen's union chief and the stabbing of a dentist were due to interests in relation to a port construction, and the stabbing of a nurse was due to Nomura's dissatisfaction with how she handled him, the court ruled.
Though it was ruled that the direct motive of the shooting of a former police inspector "was unknown," the collusion between the two defendants and the group members was recognized based on Kudo-kai's strong organizational structure in which superiors' orders must be followed. The court accordingly judged that all four cases could not have occurred without instructions from and the consent of both defendants.
Meanwhile, the fine of 20 million yen demanded for Tanoue by prosecutors on the grounds that the former police inspector was shot for the purpose of earning a profit, was rejected.
After the closing of the court hearing, Nomura's lawyer criticized the ruling as "ridiculous" in front of the press. Both defendants' lawyers said they plan to appeal. The Fukuoka District Public Prosecutors Office said, "Our argument was generally accepted. We would like to carefully consider the content of the ruling and take appropriate measures with respect to the fine."