Each week, here at Osaka.com, we bring you a selection of some of the top stories about Osaka making the local and national news here in Japan. Sometimes it’s serious, sometimes it’s funny, but it’s always direct to you, from Osaka.
Here’s a look at some of the stories hitting the headlines in Osaka this week.
Table of Contents
Yakuza Boss and Subordinates Arrested
Osaka police struck a blow against organized crime this week, with the arrest of a prominent figure in a local Yakuza group. Alongside 60-year-old Junichi Kimura, 4 other men were also arrested. Although information remains unconfirmed for the time being, sources believe that the other 4 men also had ties to organized crime.
The arrests came after attempts to resolve an internal dispute within a local Yakuza faction turned sour. Kimura and his accomplices stand accused of placing severed pig heads onto two vehicles belonging to the victim. In a further macabre act, to underline their intent, the pig heads had knives jabbed into their eye sockets. They were also smeared in a red, blood-like substance. The victim in this case previously attempted to act as a mediator in a dispute involving Kimura and other factions within his Yakuza group.
Yakuza Dispute Dates Back Several Months
Kimura’s arrest is just the latest chapter in a wave of turmoil that has engulfed Osaka’s organized crime world since February. Kimura is an executive member of the Azuma-Gumi, one of Osaka’s 2 main Yakuza factions. Internal strife erupted within the Azuma-Gumi early this year when another senior member decided to sever ties with the group. In turn, this led to an internal power struggle. These arrests represent the latest fallout from this situation.
In addition to threatening behavior Kimura and his associates also face charges of destruction of property and intimidation. This stems from one of the vehicle windscreens being smashed during the alleged incident. At the time of writing police sources could not confirm whether Kimura and his accomplices have denied the charges. Investigations continue.
Yakuza gangs lie in something of a grey area in Japanese law. Being a member of one of these organizations isn’t, in itself illegal. However, members are required to make themselves known to local police, and in turn their activities are monitored. By and large, the Yakuza tend to police themselves. The word on the street is, don’t bother them and they won’t bother you. However, police likely intervened this time due to the victim being a civilian. Despite their alleged association with the Azuma-Gumi, the victim is not thought to be an actual member of any Yakuza organization.
Prominent Anti-Vaxxer Arrested for Fraud
In a rather ironic case this week, an anti-vaccine activist with strong anti-government sentiments, was arrested for defrauding his local ward office.
Daisuke Murai claimed unemployment benefits of around 500,000 yen over four months from the Konohana Ward benefits office. However, bank statements show that during this same period, Yamato Q, the anti-vaccine group Murai leads, received 72 million yen in donations. In turn, Murai used 6.2 million yen from this account to buy various electronics and other consumer goods for his home.
Funnily enough, the often vocal activist, who claims to know the “truth” about vaccines didn’t have much to say this week on the issue of truth. “I’d like to tell you my side of the story, as soon as confirm that story with my lawyer”, was his rather contradictory response to questions this week.
Whilst it is easy to mock such idiocy, Yamato Q, which has links with the US based Q-Anon conspiracy theory group, has occasionally turned violent in their protests. The group have held a number of anti-vaccine rallies, mimicking those seen in the US. However, thankfully, their movement has not gained anywhere near as much traction in Japan as it has elsewhere. Public backlash against the group peaked when they stormed an active vaccination center in Tokyo earlier this year. A number of group members were arrested at the time.
Stargazers in Osaka enjoyed a rare treat this past Tuesday evening. A full lunar eclipse saw the moon take on a deep orange/red complexion over most of the region. A lunar eclipse on its own is not such a rare occurrence, however this eclipse also coincided with a lunar occultation of Uranus.
In other words, for a brief period, Earth, the Moon and Uranus were in almost perfect alignment. The last time such a simultaneous alignment occurred was in July 1580. Truly, this was a once in a lifetime event.
However, don’t worry if you missed this week’s event. The next such alignment is only 322 years away!
That’s all for now but be sure to check back again same time next week for another round of This Week in Osaka!