TOKYO — At 3:40 a.m. on the morning of Sept 2, approximately 10 individuals, faces concealed by ski masks, stormed into Flower, a large club in Roppongi 5-chome.
The group gained access via a private entrance (described elsewhere as an emergency exit) adjacent to the club’s VIP lounge area, where a group of four to five customers, police investigators have learned, had booked the lounge in advance.
As reported in Tokyo Sports (Sept 4), the assailants made a beeline toward Ryosuke Fujimoto, the 31-year-old operator of a barbecue restaurant in Shibuya, who had been relaxing with friends for the previous two and a half hours. They bludgeoned Fujimoto with what appeared to be metal pipes, and after an assault that took no longer than two minutes, the men fled from the exit and down the steps into waiting vehicles.
A bloodied Fujimoto, a resident of Tokyo’s Nakano Ward, was transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital. He was pronounced dead shortly after 5 a.m. On Tuesday, the pathologist announced the cause to be brain injuries caused by blunt force trauma.
Club Flower is located approximately 250 meters from Roppongi subway station. On Saturday night, it hosted a music event, and was filled to near capacity with an estimated 300 customers.
“I figure plenty of the customers never even caught a glimpse of what happened,” one patron told a reporter.
According to a regular at the club, arriving customers are carefully scrutinized at the reception.
“Anyone who looks like trouble gets checked out at the entrance,” says a denizen of Roppongi familiar with that club. “I suppose the only way the assailants could have got in would be via some other entrance. With the lighting subdued and the music turned up, hardly anyone would have noticed the attack except someone close by the victim’s table.”
“There are rumors floating around that the victim was involved in some trouble, possibly drugs,” another Roppongi local is quoted as saying. “But they are no more than rumors.”
Police investigators have since released more information. The perpetrators’ two passenger vans are believed to have entered the Shuto Expressway from a nearby access ramp—and recorded by security cameras—and driven in the direction of Shinjuku.
Tsuyoshi Natsuno, a professor at the Keio University graduate school, remarked to J-Cast News (Sept 3), “The attackers may have been gang members or as someone heard them speaking broken Japanese, it’s possible they were foreigners.”
Certainly, J-Cast argues, the killers’ modus operandi—a team of 10 men in ski masks, who homed in on a single target—was exceptional, even for a yakuza group, and the kind of thing that had heretofore seldom occurred in Japan.
Actually it did occur once before. In Roppongi last December, a group of some 20 young men armed with beer bottles and metal pipes attacked a yakuza leader. Those perpetrators have yet to be identified, and the recurrence of this kind of violent incident in so public a place has Tokyo Sports worried.
Roppongi, is becoming increasingly dangerous, freelance writer Yasuhiro Ebina tells Nikkan Gendai (Sept 4).
“It looks like the yakuza may be farming out jobs to groups of young punks (he uses the term ‘han-gure,’ meaning semi-gangsters), as the yakuza themselves are being hassled by the police even for just opening their mouths,” says Ebina. “The clubs may be a spot where speed or quasi-legal drugs are openly sold, and salarymen will be threatened if they are noticed watching a transaction.
“I’m aware that groups of young toughs from Chiba or Tochigi come into Roppongi for ‘trial runs.’ They’ve been known to fight it out with the Africans who work as touts. Rumbles on the streets are by no means rare.
Ebina also says rapes in Roppongi are on the increase.
“The rapists’ targets are women waiting for the trains to start running again in the morning. They will invite the women to a bar and slip a mickey into their drinks, then leave the girls unconscious on the street after they rape them. Sometimes you can see semiconscious women get booted out from passing cars right at the main Roppongi intersection.”
Roppongi, says the tabloid, has become even more dangerous than sleazy Kabukicho. Hey, Gov Ishihara, Nikkan Gendai suggests—before you pitch hosting the 2020 Olympics, how about cleaning up your city?