Japanese Gang Leader, 74, Becomes First Yakuza to Be Sentenced to Death

A district court in the Japanese city of Fukuoka, on the island of Kyushu, sentenced to death a leader of organized crime group Kudo-kai, 74-year-old Satoru Nomura, who was convicted for four criminal incidents, including one killing,

the NHK reported

on Tuesday. Nomura is the first yakuza to face the death penalty.

When Fukuoka prosecutors requested the court impose the death sentence on Nomura, Japanese media were quick to note the unprecedented nature of the requirement.

Nomura faced trial on attacks occurring between 1998 and 2014. Among other things, he was accused of attacking the head of a fisheries cooperative in Kyushu in 1998, as well as his younger brother in 2014. Also, according to the prosecution, he ordered a policeman who was investigating Kudo-kai to be assassinated, as well as a

nurse from a clinic, where Nomura was treated

, as he reportedly did not like her ministrations.

“I asked for a fair decision… You will regret this for the rest of your life,” the yakuza boss reportedly told the judge.

Nomura pleaded not guilty as, according to the Japanese news outlet, there was no “direct evidence” that he was involved in the crimes. The judge said that Kudo-kai has such strict order that it is impossible for gangsters to act without the approval and involvement its leaders. Nomura’s attorneys were said to be planning to appeal the ruling.

A second gang leader was also convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. In total, six Kudo-kai leaders were arrested in 2014 on suspicion of the attempted murder of a restaurant owner, who hung a sign on his venue’s door, banning yakuza members. The owner was stabbed, but survived.

Tattooed Japanese at Sanja Matsuri festival

Before the arrest, Kudo-kai was siad to include some

950 professional gangsters

. In 2009-2013, it was involved in nearly 50 incidents involving raids and extortion. During one, gangsters

threw a hand grenade into a nightclub

whose owner advocated the elimination of legacy criminal influence in the entertainment business. Nearly a dozen of people were reportedly injured as a result of the attack.

The number of yakuza clans in Japan has been declining for many years and now involves approximately 26,000 people. Police believe that the reduction can be explained by the constant pressure on organized crime by the authorities, as well as growing difficulties gangs are experiencing acquiring money.

The largest yakuza groups in Japan exist almost legally by ruling private companies or public organizations. Their income mostly comes from gambling, the entertainment and sex industries, drug sales, financial fraud, and construction.