Was Kyoto's 'Gyoza King' shot dead by a Chinese hit man?

TOKYO —

At around 5:45 on the morning of Dec 19. Takayuki Ohigashi, the charismatic, 72-year-old president of Osho Food Service, operator of the Gyoza no Osho restaurant chain, arrived at the usual time at his company headquarters in Kyoto’s Yamashina Ward. He was met by an assailant who fired four small caliber bullets into his torso, killing him.

A newspaper reporter who covered the incident tells Shukan Asahi Geino (Jan 16) that the shooting had all the hallmarks of a professional hit.

Normally in a slaying involving guns, suspicion would automatically fall on the yakuza. But the gun used in the shooting was determined to be a .25 caliber automatic, not the likely choice of a weapon by a syndicate member.

“Colt of the U.S. and Beretta of Italy are best known for this type of handgun, and there are other models manufactured in Belgium,” a gang cadre explains. “We obtain a lot of these via Russia—they are brought in by fishermen on crab boats that visit ports in Hokkaido. But even if yakuza were involved in smuggling the guns, I think the possibility is low that they would use them themselves to kill anyone.”

Another yakuza, a veteran gang head, tells Geino’s reporter why he thinks there’s little likelihood of direct gang involvement in the Ohigashi slaying.

“A .25 caliber bullet is about the size of a peanut—good for intimidation since it can break a window or cause a wound,” he says. “But it’s not for serious jobs. When a yakuza wants to rub somebody out, he’ll use a .38 caliber or something bigger and make sure. And these days they avoid using automatics, which have more problems with maintenance and storage.”

So then, who’s the likely perpetrator in the Ohigashi shooting?

“Back in the old days when the gangs were thriving, I heard stories about hit men who would go overseas to practice their marksmanship,” says the aforementioned gang boss. “A shooter would be trained to avoid looking into the victim’s eyes, which might rattle their nerves, so they always aimed for the body. From what I heard of the Kyoto shooting, that sounds to me like the work of a pro.”

“I guess it was a Chinese hit man,” he adds. “If you pay 1.5 million yen up front to gang “D,” they’ll send somebody to China. It’s not hard to get somebody into the country, and while it’s not that easy to equip him with a ‘tool’ (a gun), they can obtain one from a yakuza easily enough.

“Of course, the shooter would need the cooperation and guidance of some local Japanese. But once the job was done, he would leave the country. His payment for a successful job would come to 1.5 million yen, so the whole thing would run about 3 million.”

Another point that suggests a Chinese perpetrator is that one would likely be adept at use of a small-caliber automatic, as locally made versions of the .30 caliber Tokarev are in widespread use in China.

China has also been linked to a possible motive for the killing.

“In 2005, Gyoza no Osho started doing business in Dalian, Liaoning Province,” says a police source. “That was five years after Ohigashi had taken over as president, and the company was in the process of making a sharp recovery. It currently operates four restaurants there. When the first outlet opened, we heard something about a run-in with local gangsters, at which time Gyoza no Osho asked a Japanese gang to mediate. But Osho balked at paying them for services rendered.”

Could it be, then, that use of a Chinese shooter was the Japanese gang’s idea of revenge?

This scenario, however, was only one of several possibilities raised in the Geino article and in any case the aforementioned news reporter said the police have their work cut out for them.

“If they can’t solve it within one or two months, it could easily turn into cold case, like the murder of that family of four in Setagaya, Tokyo, at the end of December 2000. When a hit man flees abroad, those are the sort of complications you can expect.”

  • 13

    BertieWooster

    Does anybody have any hard evidence that the gunman was Chinese?

    Or is this just another attempt to try to build up bad feeling against the Chinese?

  • -17

    kimuzukashiiiii

    Bertie - Japanese people have no access to guns, ordinarily. Unless it was the Yakuza, but they don't really kill that often. And when they do they certainly don't leave the body to be found.

  • 14

    SenseNotSoCommon

    Conjecture journalism.

  • 3

    GalapagosnoGairaishu

    Yakuza, unfortunately, do not make reliable sources for interviews. The only motive I could see for them to talk to the media would be to make statements that are intended to divert police attention away from themselves, e.g., "It wasn't me, it was some other guy who's not even in Japan now!"

  • 6

    StormR

    A lot of hog wash, Chinese hitmen and the surrounding dribble in the article, half of it doesn't even make sense the way its put together

  • -1

    Suzu1

    Unless it was the Yakuza, but they don't really kill that often. And when they do they certainly don't leave the body to be found.

    That statement is at odds with the facts. There have been numerous incidents over the years of public shootings carried out by yakuza.

    This story is

  • 10

    BertieWooster

    kimuzukashiiiii,

    Bertie - Japanese people have no access to guns, ordinarily. Unless it was the Yakuza, but they don't really kill that often. And when they do they certainly don't leave the body to be found.

    Oh I see!

    So that means that it must have been the Chinese!

  • 6

    LiveInTokyo

    Unless it was the Yakuza, but they don't really kill that often. And when they do they certainly don't leave the body to be found.

    I'd love to know from what great experience the writer based that opinion on.

    But the article is just full of conjecture, nothing based on factual evidence from this case. It might have been done by someone from China and then it might easily have been done from someone in Japan.

  • -2

    Disillusioned

    Ha ha! Cold case? Covered up case is more like it. It's amazing how many gang related killings in japan end up on the cold case list. Make no mistake, a .25 calibre pistol is quite deadly at close range.

  • 2

    Wakarimasen

    Why is there no information about why he might have been offed? Was he "charismatic"?? Weird article, JT.

  • 4

    jojotoday

    A foreign hitman gives the police an excuse when this crime remains unsolved. See you guys in 2023 on the ten year anniversary post.

  • -6

    Hide Suzuki

    @Disillusioned

    You don't know if this was gang related. Prosecution rate in Japan is higher than your country Australia

  • 1

    AlexNoaburg

    I guess the Chinese are taking over one gyoza boss at a time

  • 6

    Pandabelle

    Pretty irresponsible to have a single, unverified, unnamed source point the finger at a foreign perp (especially Chinese), don't you think? What is the point of this sort of speculation?

  • 3

    Nessie

    Dear J-Satsu,

    Taro Yamaguchi was at home with me at the time of the shooting.

    Signed,

    Taro Yamaguchi's Mother

  • 6

    tmarie

    Gee, we don't know who it was so let's just blame the Chinese...

  • 9

    smithinjapan

    Personally, I think it was a space alien. I mean, in not ONE of the articles on this case is there any proof that it was NOT a space alien, is there? The space alien may have thought he was going to a restaurant for Chinese food in Japan, but it was not really all that Chinese, so he assassinated the leader.

    Seems as likely to be the case as the conjecture and biased guesswork in this article. But yeah, hey, why don't we just simply believe the Yakuza interviewed on this topic? They are, after all, honest and genuinely hard working folk.

    "“If you pay 1.5 million yen up front to gang “D,” they’ll send somebody to China..."

    TO China? not 'from' China?

  • 3

    Elbuda Mexicano

    Hmm...so now we can all blame China??

  • 4

    AlexNoaburg

    This line slays me: "China has also been linked to a possible motive for the killing."

    And uh I can't believe they're using a yakuza member as their source. His logic: we don't use that caliber, but we probably gave that caliber for the hitman to use. Say what?

  • 3

    Mitch Cohen

    It’s not hard to get somebody into the country, and while it’s not that easy to equip him with a ‘tool’ (a gun), they can obtain one from a yakuza easily enough.

    I love that.

    Basically they're saying the murder is not likely to be Yakuza-related because the choice of weapon was not typical of Yakuza, and they're saying a Chinese man probably came to Japan and obtained a weapon from the Yakuza to carry out the killing.

    Hmmm.... makes you wonder.

  • 4

    Americanhonor

    kimuzukashiiiii ive lived here for over 20 yrs and have to say what youre saying is pure nonsense. Foreign gangsters cannot do a job like this unless they were contracted by japanese.

  • 1

    slowguy2

    "Bertie - Japanese people have no access to guns, ordinarily. Unless it was the Yakuza, but they don't really kill that often. And when they do they certainly don't leave the body to be found".

    Give me a break. I don't know where you get your information, but it's contrary to facts. According to the many cases recounted in *Tokyo Vice *by Jake Adelstein, the crusading reporter who worked the Tokyo crime beat for many years for the Yomiuri and dealt with some of the worst criminal elements in Japan in the process, there are plenty of guns in Japan, and yakuza hits do often leave bodies behind.

  • 1

    therougou

    thought it was supposed to be a North Korean

  • 0

    kcjapan

    "This scenario, however, was only one of several possibilities raised in the Geino article" but Japan Today settled on repeating it without any thought about the implications of their xenophobia? No one is perfect.

  • -1

    Fox Cloud Lelean

    @Wakarimasen

    China has also been linked to a possible motive for the killing.

    “In 2005, Gyoza no Osho started doing business in Dalian, Liaoning Province,” says a police source. “That was five years after Ohigashi had taken over as president, and the company was in the process of making a sharp recovery. It currently operates four restaurants there. When the first outlet opened, we heard something about a run-in with local gangsters, at which time Gyoza no Osho asked a Japanese gang to mediate. But Osho balked at paying them for services rendered.”

    Could it be, then, that use of a Chinese shooter was the Japanese gang’s idea of revenge?

    This scenario, however, was only one of several possibilities raised in the Geino article and in any case the aforementioned news reporter said the police have their work cut out for them.

    This is one of the possible reasons why he was killed, quoted from this very article. Did you not read the whole thing? Or did you just miss that part.

    It might be a stretch to say that it was definitely China, but I wouldn't rule them out. Then again, there's no guarantee that it could have been anyone from Asia even. It doesn't seem like a professional hit to me, based on the calibre used and the method of execution. Professional hits typically involve .38 or .40 calibre rounds, and it's usually a single shot to the heart, between the eyes, or the back of the head. Four .25 callibre shots to the torso seems amateurish. Perhaps a rookie gangster, but more likely a random killing. I think it's unlikely that this was pre-meditated. But that's just my opinion.

  • 2

    Skeeter27

    Speculation speculation.... This should not even be in the news!

    People need to stand back and let the authorities follow the evidence wherever it leads... If the evidence leads to a Chinese individual so it does. However, if it doesn't then what's the point in all the speculation?

    Let the evidence lead the authorities to the proper person so that the person or persons can be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    All this speculation is useless....

  • 2

    senseiman

    Really just a thoroughly horrible article.

    The statements made are completely at odds with each other. At one point it says it must have been a professional hit, but then at another the source says that pros would have done it with a bigger gun.

    And what is the Chinese connection, other than that sometimes people in China are known to shoot other people? When I saw the headline I was expecting to read about the Osho president having had some business or personal dispute with a Chinese organized crime group or something.

  • 1

    Jenny Song

    where's our Conan?

  • 3

    Americanhonor

    Ever since I moved here most violent crimes and robberies have been attributed to chinese...the NPA is quick to release assumptions without any clear evidence or detective work to back them up. as Only rare cases have involved chinese nationals, the bulk of these hits and jobs have always been carried out by japanese gangsters... Time for the keystone cops to act more professionslly and less stereotyping in order to release public tensions about their inability to control the yakuza.

  • 0

    Asian2013

    All Japanese better be careful. Chinese hit men can get you.

  • 1

    kaimycahl

    Ok let me simply put it this way! According to the article the HIT was the supposedly done by a Chinese shooter but the brain work or should I say CALL was a Japanese gang’s idea for revenge! So I would simply say if these possibilities are correct why not say an Asian did it.

  • -1

    Xeno23

    For those who question a professional's choice of a small caliber: during WW2 the OSS frequently issued .22 caliber semi-automatic pistols for assassination missions. For a trained pro, it's not the size of the bullet, it's where you put it.

    If used expertly, a small caliber bullet is a good choice for a lot of reasons. For one, it doesn't leave a lot of mess, won't have immediately noticeable effects, is less likely to alarm bystanders, and if the pistol is suppressed, it makes very little noise.

    By the way, a .38 or 9mm bullet isn't much bigger than a peanut either; it's the charge of the propellant that's more important.

  • 1

    Argus Tuft

    Speculation speculation.... This should not even be in the news!

    Consider that the source is a tabloi

    >

    A newspaper reporter who covered the incident tells Shukan Asahi Geino (Jan 16)

  • -1

    argyle46

    If you leave a body, you are making a statement. Whoever did it wanted the people to know.

  • -1

    Triumvere

    Oooh. Since we are speculating, my money is on a mustachioed Argentinian in a white suit, with impeccable taste in women and alcoholic beverages.

  • -1

    Raymond Chuang

    Here's something more intriguing: did anyone hear a loud series bangs from the shooting? If not, that could make this murder even more sinister: the bullets were fired from a gun with a silencer fitted to the front of the gun barrel. That could make it more than just a Yakuza hit--it could mean the gun was from someone who has easy access to "silenced" handguns--possibly a foreign intelligence agency.

  • 0

    bookowls

    WakarimasenJAN. Why is there no information about why he might have been offed? Was he "charismatic"?? Weird article, JT

    Did you not read the entire article? It says quite clearly that there was a possible motive from gang related involvement in opening business in China. But I'll grant you, it is a weird article and I am curious as to how this was even passed for publication, without being vetted for possible hate talk!

  • -1

    budgie

    If it was a Chinese hit man, a Japanese gangster paid for the bullet.

Login to leave a comment

OR
  • 営業/建設機械  

    営業/建設機械  
    MB Japan 株式会社、埼玉県
    給与:給与要相談 歩合制 給与参考例・・・2013年度営業職月給平均 45万円  
  • TOEICインストラクター

    TOEICインストラクター
    Berkeley House Language Center / バークレーハウス語学センター、東京都
    給与:時給 3,000円 相談可
  • TOEFL・IELTSインストラクター

    TOEFL・IELTSインストラクター
    Berkeley House Language Center / バークレーハウス語学センター、東京都
    給与:時給 3,500円 相談可
  • 海外留学担当者

    海外留学担当者
    Berkeley House Language Center / バークレーハウス語学センター、東京都
    給与:月給 25万円 ~ 35万円 相談可
  • PR and Communication Specialist

    PR and Communication Specialist
    Italian Chamber of Commerce in Japan、東京都
    給与:給与についての記載なし

More in Kuchikomi

View all

View all