Tadamasa Goto

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Tadamasa Soto (後藤 忠政, Gotō Tadamasa, born September 16, 1943)[1] is a retired yakuza. The US Treasury department put him on a watch-list in December 2015 and he is still engaged in criminal activity.[2] He is also considered to be bankrolling the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi which split from the 100 year old Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan's largest crime group, on August 27, 2015. He was the founding head of the Goto-gumi, a Fujinomiya-based affiliate of Japan's largest yakuza syndicate, the Yamaguchi-gumi.[3]

Goto, who has been convicted at least nine times,[3] was a prominent yakuza, who had even been dubbed the "John Gotti of Japan".[4] At one point he was the most powerful crime boss in Tokyo[5] and also the largest shareholder in Japan Airlines,[6] though the latter piece of information reported by FT magazine on June 12, 2010 is questionable and could not be confirmed by stock exchange filings.[7]

He had been barred from entering the United States until 2001 when he got a special visa deal from the FBI.[8]

Career overview[edit]

According to his autobiography, Goto was born in Ebara, Tokyo, as the youngest of four brothers. After beginning of the Pacific War, of World War II, he moved to his father's hometown Fujinomiya, Shizuoka at age two when his mother died. He was raised by his grandmother and grew up in poverty.[9] After a period as a street thug in Fujinomiya, his yakuza career officially began in 1972, at age 30, when he joined a tertiary Yamaguchi-affiliate based in Fujinomiya.[10] Goto was rapidly promoted, and in 1985 he formed his own yakuza group, the Goto-gumi, in Fujinomiya as a secondary affiliate of the Yamaguchi-gumi.[1] He entered the Kobe headquarters of the Yamaguchi-gumi in its 4th era (1984–1985),[1] and had been in the headquarters until 2008 when he was expelled.[11]

FBI scandal[edit]

In 2001, after dealing with the FBI, he entered the United States to receive a liver transplant, and gave a $100,000 donation to the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.[12] Goto got his new liver, from a queue-jumping transplant,[13] in the year when 186 people in the Los Angeles region died waiting for a liver.[8] Although the FBI would want some crucial information about the Yamaguchi-gumi's activities in the United States, Goto provided little useful information, according to a retired chief of the FBI's Asian criminal enterprise unit in Washington,[8] however it included a clue about some activities of Susumu Kajiyama the "Emperor of Loan Sharks".[14] Jake Adelstein, the journalist who uncovered the transplant story, received death threats.[15] When he was investigating the scandal for the Yomiuri newspaper, he had a formal meeting with mobsters associated with Goto, where he was told, "erase the story or be erased, your family too".[4]


Goto began disappearing from the yakuza scene in 2008 after allegedly being forced into retirement by the Kobe headquarters' ruling faction led by Kiyoshi Takayama of the Kodo-kai.[16] His expulsion from the Yamaguchi-gumi was officially confirmed by the headquarters in October 2008.[17] After retirement, he became a Buddhist priest,[18] with his Buddhist name "Chuei" (忠叡).[19]


Goto released his autobiography, Habakarinagara (lit. "while hesitating", roughly analogous to the western phrase "with all due respect" [20]), in May 2010. Habakarinagara had sold over 225,000 copies and went to number one in sales on various book-sales charts in Japan, including the Amazon.co.jp chart, by early 2011. All book royalties were donated to charity, Cambodia's "Angkor Association for the Disabled" and Myanmar's two Buddhist temples including "Mogok Vipassana Temple".[11] Angkor Association for the Disabled's official website has listed Goto as a major donor, with his Buddhist name "[Ven.] Chyuei [Gotou]".[21]

US Treasury Sanctions[edit]

In December 2015, Goto was named by the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control as an individual with ongoing associations with the Japanese yakuza. Sanctions were imposed to effectively freeze all known assets held by Goto in the United States and to prohibit all U.S. persons from engaging in transactions with him.[2]


  1. ^ a b c The Sixth Yamaguchi-gumi Complete Databook 2008 Edition : "Tadamasa Goto" (p.137–138), February 1, 2005, Mediax, ISBN 978-4-86201-358-3 (in Japanese)
  2. ^ a b "Treasury Sanctions Individual Linked To Japanese Yakuza Network". Press Center. U.S. Department of the Treasury. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Characteristics and Tendencies of the Goto-gumi Organization (from Japanese Government Agency Files)" Japan Subculture Research Center, by Jake Adelstein
  4. ^ a b "FBI helped Japanese gangster to have life-saving transplant in US", May 31, 2008, The Independent
  5. ^ "Ties to the Yakuza Are No Laughing Matter", 26 August 2011, Jake Adelstein, The Atlantic Wire
  6. ^ "First Person: ‘I don’t know if I’m still on a hit list’", June 12, 2010, The Financial Times
  7. ^ According to stock exchange filings of Japan Airlines, largest shareholders of the company were as follows.
    March 2003, Mizuho Corporate Bank 88,611,000 shares (4.47%)
    March 2004, Tokyu Corporation 80,397,000 shares (4.05%)
    March 2005, Tokyu Corporation 80,397,000 shares (4.05%)
    March 2006, Tokyu Corporation 80,397,000 shares (4.05%)
    March 2007, State Street Bank and Trust Company 87,700,000 shares (3.21%)
    March 2008, State Street Bank and Trust Company 102,431,000 shares (3.75%)
    March 2009, Japan Trustee Services Bank 136,423,000 shares (4.07%)
    September 2009, Mizuho Corporate Bank 115,303,000 shares (3.45%)
    January 19, 2010, Japan Airlines filed bankruptcy at Tokyo District Court.
  8. ^ a b c "Japanese gang figures got new livers at UCLA", May 30, 2008, Los Angeles Times
  9. ^ Habakarinagara (p.14-15), 2010, Tadamasa Goto, Takarajima Publishing, ISBN 978-4-7966-8134-6 (in Japanese)
  10. ^ Habakarinagara (p.62-64), 2010, Tadamasa Goto, Takarajima Publishing, ISBN 978-4-7966-8134-6 (in Japanese)
  11. ^ a b "Habakarinagara", 2011, Takarajima Channel (in Japanese)
  12. ^ "Tadamasa Goto gives up the gangster life", April 8, 2009, The First Post
  13. ^ "Gangster boss who turned to God", April 10, 2009, The Independent
  14. ^ "The dark side of the rising sun", June 15, 2008, Canada.com
  15. ^ "Japanese underworld boss quits crime to turn Buddhist", April 7, 2009, The Guardian
  16. ^ "Police's 'Yamaguchi-gumi Cleanup Operation' behind the O-zumo's 'Baseball Gambling'", July 1, 2010, Gendai Business (in Japanese)
  17. ^ "Tadamasa Goto gives up the gangster life", 8 April 2009, The Week UK
  18. ^ "Yakuza boss reincarnated as Buddhist priest", April 9, 2009, Sydney Morning Herald
  19. ^ "Habakarinagara by Tadamasa Goto (Buddhist name : Chuei)", 17 June 2011, Asahi.com (in Japanese)
  20. ^ "All Due Respect". The New Yorker. 2012-01-09. Retrieved 2018-12-04.
  21. ^ ""Donors"". Archived from the original on March 24, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-29.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link), 8 February 2012, Angkor Association for the Disabled

Further reading[edit]