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Japanese Crime Boss Retires, Yakuza Cry Like Little Girls

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…

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