Police on high alert as violence escalates between rival yakuza gangs

It’s like a mob movie.
Cars and trucks are crashing into the buildings of the nation’s largest yakuza crime syndicate, the Yamaguchi-gumi, and its splinter group the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, putting police on high alert.
On early Thursday in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, a SUV ran into the garage of a house where the head of a Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi-affiliated group lives. Police officers who were monitoring the house arrested the driver, Akira Matsubara, 34, a member of a Yamaguchi-gumi-affiliated group, on the spot.
The garage door was destroyed in the incident, but no one was injured, according to police. Hidenobu Naruse, 52, another Yamaguchi-gumi affiliate member, was arrested Friday for providing assistance to Matsubara.
Meanwhile, in Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture, police found early Thursday morning a truck had backed into the closed side entrance of a three-story building occupied by an organization linked to the Yamaguchi-gumi. Police said the truck was a stolen car with Chiba-registered license plates and the building was empty when police arrived at the scene.
The incidents are the latest in a series of events over the past few days that have seen rival members storm the offices of the opposing side.
On Feb. 27, a gun was fired outside the home of a senior official of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi in Yashio, Saitama Prefecture. Police later found what appear to be two bullet marks in the walls of the house.
“I have to say these cases were conflicts between the opposing parties. We are determined to put a rest to this outbreak so it doesn’t cause any trouble to citizens,” Taro Kono, chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, told a news conference on Friday.
Kono stressed he would push the police to designate the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi as a violent gang under the anti-mobster law at the earliest date.
The Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi was established in August and is led by Kunio Inoue, who was expelled from the Yamaguchi-gumi.