Kenichi Shinoda (篠田 建市 Shinoda Ken'ichi , born January 25, 1942), also known as Shinobu Tsukasa (司 忍 Tsukasa Shinobu ), is a yakuza, the sixth and current kumicho (supreme Godfather) of the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan's largest yakuza organization.
He began his yakuza career in 1962 when he joined the Hirota-gumi, a Nagoya-based Yamaguchi-gumi affiliate. Following the disbanding of the Hirota-gumi, he founded the Kodo-kai with Kiyoshi Takayama among others in 1984 as the successor to the Hirota-gumi.
Under Shinoda and his long-term partner Takayama, the Kodo-kai was a successful branch of the Yamaguchi-gumi, establishing branches in 18 prefectures—including expansion into the Kantō region, traditionally not Yamaguchi territory.
Shinoda took control of the 40,000-strong gang on July 29, 2005 after the retirement of previous don Yoshinori Watanabe. Under Shinoda, the Kobe-based Yamaguchi-gumi is expected to continue that expansion into Tokyo and Eastern Japan. According to both yakuza and police, this movement will inevitably create conflict between the Yamaguchi-gumi and the Kanto-Hatsukakai, a federation of Tokyo-based yakuza groups including the Inagawa-kai and the Sumiyoshi-kai.
Shinoda is the first Yamaguchi-gumi kumicho not to hail from the Kansai region. He also eschews the "supreme Godfather" image, in public at least: after his appointment as kumicho, he insisted on taking the train to his induction ceremony instead of a chauffeured limousine. He also reportedly stopped in a street ramen noodle restaurant on the way to the lavish yakuza banquet arranged in his honor.
In the early 1970s, Shinoda was convicted of murdering a rival yakuza boss with a katana, and spent 13 years in prison. He was also involved, as the head of the Kodo-kai, in the Yamaguchi-gumi's numerous historic yakuza wars. Notably his achievements at the Yama-Ichi War in the late 1980s was a major reason for his entrance into the Yamaguchi-gumi's Kobe headquarters.
On December 4, 2005, only four months after being named kumicho, Shinoda began serving a six-year prison sentence for gun possession after the Japanese Supreme Court finally rejected his appeal of a 1997 conviction. In the 1997 case, one of his bodyguards was caught with an illegal pistol, and Shinoda was convicted of "conspiring" with the bodyguard. He was released just under eight months early on April 9, 2011.
U.S. sanctions in 2012
In 2012 the Obama administration of the United States imposed sanctions on him as the leader of the Yamaguchi-gumi, along with his second-in-command Kiyoshi Takayama. The sanctions also targeted several individuals linked to three other transnational organized crime groups, the Brothers' Circle of Russia, the Camorra of Italy, and Los Zetas of Mexico.
- Johnston, Eric, "Yakuza don exits the big house", Japan Times, 10 April 2011, p. 2.
- "Pre-Notification For Upcoming Designation Of Transnational Organized Criminal Elements : IDENTIFYING INFORMATION : YAKUZA : Entry 1 : Yamaguchi-gumi : Person 1 : Kenichi Shinoda" (p.2) Malta Financial Services Authority
- "All-out turf war feared in Japanese underworld", 7 February 2007, The Guardian and "Japan's largest gang group changes its head for the first time in 16 years", August 30, 2005, Epoch Times (using katana / against a yakuza boss) (Chinese)
- The Outline of the Yamaguchi-gumi, p.228, Kenji Ino, December 2008, Chikumashobo Ltd., ISBN 978-4-480-06463-9 (Japanese)
- Police wary as Yamaguchi-gumi prepares to fete sixth don | The Japan Times Online
- "Japan frees Yamaguchi-gumi crime boss Kenichi Shinoda", 9 April 2011, BBC
- "US steps up offensive against Japan's yakuza gangs", 24 February 2012, The Guardian
- "US moves to isolate Russian, Japanese crime groups", 23 February 2012, AFP
- "Top 10: Criminal Organizations, No.2 Yamaguchi-gumi" (with a picture)
- Guardian article
- Japan Times article
- BBC News - Japanese yakuza boss goes to jail
- Kenichi Shinoda - russian version
|President of Yamaguchi-gumi
Takeshi Hirota (former Hirota-gumi)
|President of Kodo-kai