Kazuo Taoka

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Kazuo Taoka
From left to right, Mitsuru Ono, Kazuo Taoka, Kōji Tsuruta. 1952.
Born March 28, 1913
Higashimiyoshi, Tokushima, Japan
Died July 23, 1981(1981-07-23) (aged 68)
Amagasaki, Japan[1]

Kazuo Taoka (田岡 一雄, Taoka Kazuo, March 28, 1913 – July 23, 1981) was one of the most prominent yakuza godfathers.[2]

Known as the "Godfather of Godfathers", Taoka was third kumicho of the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan's largest yakuza organization, from 1946 to 1981.


Early life[edit]

Taoka, an orphan, grew up as a young street fighter in Kobe under the guidance of Noboru Yamaguchi, the Yamaguchi-gumi's boss. He earned his lifelong nickname "Kuma" ("the Bear") due to his signature attack of clawing at an opponent's eyes.


He was imprisoned for murder from 1937 to 1943, and assumed the role of kumicho three years later at the age of 33.

In 1972, Taoka forged an alliance between the Yamaguchi-gumi and the Inagawa-kai at a sakazuki ceremony at his home.

He had survived a 1978 assassination attempt when he was shot in the back of the neck by a member of the Matsuda-gumi (松田組), a rival gang to the Yamaguchi-gumi, during a limbo dance exhibition at a nightclub in Kyoto. His attacker was found dead several weeks later in some woods near Kobe.


He led the Yamaguchi-gumi until his death from a heart attack in 1981. His wife, Fumiko, briefly filled the gang's leadership role until a new kumicho, Masahisa Takenaka, was chosen in 1984.

Personal life[edit]

From 1983 until 1990, his daughter, Yuki, was married to Kitarō, a noted Japanese new-age musician.


Preceded by
Noboru Yamaguchi
Kumicho of Yamaguchi-gumi
Succeeded by
Masahisa Takenaka