Yoshinori Watanabe shocked Japan’s underworld late July with the announcement that he was standing down as the kumicho, or chairman, of the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s biggest yakuza syndicate.
Hundreds of yakuza gang bosses from across Japan went to the Yamaguchi-gumi’s Kobe headquarters for the July 29 meeting as they were watched by scores of police and media representatives.
Watanabe, 64, announced his retirement in a statement read out by Saizo Kishimoto, general manager of the syndicate’s headquarters.
Apparently, the huge meeting room where the gang bosses sat in silence while the announcement was made, with the hush broken only when some broke down in tears.
Watanabe then stood up and addressed his In November last year, the Supreme Court ruled that Watanabe, as head of the syndicate, could be held liable in civil cases brought about because of crimes committed by members of the Yamaguchi-gumi. The ruling meant that anybody who sued the yakuza gang could also name Watanabe as a defendant and be entitled to claim compensation from him individually.
Watanabe responded to the ruling by announcing the following day that he was taking a sabbatical. Ever since then, the Yamaguchi-gumi had effectively been run by a council of its top leaders.
Watanabe was the first ever leader of the Yamaguchi-gumi to be alive when his successor assumed office…
Cardboard Robot Wrestling is slowly gathering a following in Japan, with about 200 cramming in to watch a recent set of bouts.
Cardboard Robots, or kamirobo as they are referred to in Japanese, are the creation, Shukan Taishu claims, of artist Tomohiro Yasui, who maneuvers the grapplers with his own hands in the bouts telecast on a huge screen so everybody in the audience can see what’s happening.
Yasui has even managed to convince powerful toymakers like Bandai and Avex to market his cardboard ring warriors.
“I’ve been making the robots since my elementary school days and now I’ve got about 200 different robots,” Yasui tells Shukan Taishu.
Yasui’s first kamirobo were fairly simple, moving only their shoulders and elbows. Now, however, the cardboard wrestlers he makes move at all major limbs, giving them greater flexibility and a more realistic look when they are actually pitted in the ring.
“You can make them using cardboard from cake boxes or the packaging you get in business shirts, then color them in using markers, so they’re really cheap,” Yasui tells Shukan Taishu. “Because they’re made of cardboard, they can get pretty beat up after a fight. But I’m pretty good when it comes to fixing them up again and I do it a lot.”