This article does not cite any sources. (January 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Ishii was born in Yokosuka in 1924. In World War II, he was assigned to a kaiten unit of the Japanese Navy but was not given the chance to take part in a suicide attack. After the war, he became a yakuza and joined the Inagawa-kai in 1958. He rose to the number two position in that gang, but was imprisoned for a gambling scam from 1978 to 1984. After serving his time in prison Ishii spoke to the media, saying; "We cannot succeed in the yakuza world unless we are active and aggressive until our early forties. After that, we have to adapt our lives to ordinary society. We cannot always be so forceful."
His house remains in Yokosuka city, a three-storey, brick house in French, Greek and Italian styles.
Ishii had ownership of a golf club. Iwama Country Club was 36 holes, luxurious golf course. Ishii gathered the wealthiest of Japan and asked them to buy member ship fees that cost over two hundred thousand dollars. The golf course was a big success, bringing millions to Ishii.
He was released from prison at the start of Japan's bubble economy. Through various loans, banking deals, and real estate scams, he accumulated assets of over $4 billion which he invested in projects around the world, including in Korea and the United States. In 1989, his group even hired Prescott Bush, George H. W. Bush's brother, as an advisor (Bush denies knowing his clients' criminal background).
At that time, the yakuza were all about money and violence. If the yakuza had any sort of problems they either paid people off or sorted out their problems with violence. However the way Ishii viewed things was different compared to the typical yakuza. Ishii never favored violence and whenever he came across a problem he would always think and talk his way out of problems. Ishii did not use violence or money to solve any of his problems. Ishii also did not receive money from anyone when others wanted to resolve a problem with him or his clan. Ishii changed the overall image of the Japanese yakuza with his words.
The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper stated, "Almost every money transaction was related to Susumu Ishii in the 80s and 90s." Ishii's money went overseas as well. He invested in hotels in Monaco, Hong Kong and America. In total he invested 700 million dollars around the world. Throughout various investments he was able to have successful international relations and grow his money.
Ishii was known as the "World's Richest Gangster" or "The Gangster With the Golden Touch". Everything he touched changed into millions of dollars.
But as the Japanese economic bubble burst, Ishii was no longer "the world's richest gangster". His assets and his health declined rapidly, and in September 1990 he retired as kumicho. He was replaced by Toi Inagawa, son of the gang's original founder Kakuji Inagawa.
| Kaicho of Inagawa-kai