A Local Perspective on Life in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

Midnight Gunshots Fired in Tsukuba – Not at G-7 Ministerial-Meeting Related Sites, but at the Local Yakuza Office!


The headquarters of the Matsuba Kai

The headquarters of the Matsuba Kai, Tsukuba`s officially registered Yakuza group, was raked with gunfire sometime during the first few minutes of Monday May 16th 2016. Police found seven bullet holes in the main-gate and reported that the two people inside at the time of the shooting were unharmed – This incident occured despite the huge police presence in the city here to provide security for the G7 Science and Technology ministerial meetings.

By Avi Landau

The Tsukuba City Police Department was been reinforced with hundreds of extra officers for the May 15-17th G7 meetings being held here. Their intimidating presence is felt at every corner, behind almost every tree of central Tsukuba. How ironic, then that the worst firearms attack in the city`s history took place a few hours after the first day of meetings came to an end – and was unconnected to the G7 – it was a Yakuza vs Yakuza!

At ten minutes past midnight, Monday May 16th, someone from Tsukuba`s Sasagi neighborhood, called the 110 emergency hot-line claiming : “I just heard gun-fire!”

When police arrived at the scene, they found seven bullet-holes on a big iron gate (see photo above) outside a large house. There were apparently two people inside of the attack – neither of them, according to the police,injured.

As the sun rose over the city, news of the shooting spread fast. Everyone assumed, quite naturally, that the incident had something to do with the G7 meeting, for which so many police reinforcements had been brought in.

But once again, the facts showed us that you should never assume ! The house that was shot out was the Tsukuba Headquarters of the Matsuba Kai, Tsukuba`s officially registered “violent group” – in other words: the local Yakuza.

Apparently there was a shooting at the Matsuba Kai office in Tsuchiura (Tsukuba`s next-door neighbor to the east) earlier this month (on the 10th to be exact).

The G7 meetings schedule was unaffected by the incident- but since the shooter is still at large, as a precaution, all elementary students will have to gather at assigned locations, and walk to school in groups! Until when they will have to do this, I`m not sure.

Those of you who have read Junichi Saga`s classic “Confessions of a Yakuza” might be interested to know that the Yakuza whose story is told in that book belong toand then headed a group that was later absorbed by this very same Matsuba Kai – whose main office is in Asakusa.



  • Joy Corley says:

    I am glad no one was injured. Thank you for this and all of your articles! I enjoy them all. Your friend, Joy

  • Yakuza vs. Mayor Ichihara says:

    Was it just a coincidence that the most serious fire-arms related incident in Tsukuba`s history took place on the night of the first day of the G7 meetings being held here. Perhaps, it was… there HAS been frequent yakuza related violence over the past ten months- ever since a the Yamaguchi Gumi crime syndicate split up in August 2015.

    But still, the timing seemsjust too strange. A shooting carried out while thousands of extra policemen are stationed in Tsukuba.

    How about this for a theory….
    The Yakuza have it in for Tsukuba`s mayor Kenichi Ichihara.
    Because the huge construction project he had been promoting, which offered the prospect of billions of yen entering the coffers of gang related companies (construction, supplies, waste disposal, etc)was cancelled due to popular discontent with the plan.

    It is not outlandish to imagine, the mayor having accepted some “gifts” given to secure a piece of the construction project pie – ane the mayor, most certainly would have assured these “gift-givers” that the approval of the project was a sure thing.

    But it wasn`t – and there will be no funding for the project.

    This would have made some people very upset.

    What made me first think this? Well, the fact that almost right after the referendum which put a stop to the project was held, one of Japan`s most popular and influence weekly magazines printed a scandalous article, with photos, about the mayor having a tryst with his mistress in Hawaii.

    The timing of that article was very strange. Everyone (all the local people at least) has known about Ichihara`s philandering for years- and noone is really interested. is father was well known for his mistresses, as well.

    It seemed to me that someone wanted to hurt Ichihara – and because of the timing, I guesses it had to do with the cancelled construction project.

    A few months later, Ichihara announced that he would not be running for re-election.

    But everyone knew that the mayor was looking forward to his spectacular “last hurrah” as mayor – being the host of the G7 meeting in Tsukuba.

    Isn`t it possible that someone who had it in for him would want to spoil his party?

    Now if the yakuza had directly attacked the meetings it would have been a huge international incident – and the perpetrators and their organization would be up shit`s creek when caught.
    By attacking the Matsuba Kai`s office though, they tarnish the atmosphere of the event, while still being able to claim – “We didn`t even know the G7 meeting were being held- it`s just yakuza business, and nothing more”

    So the mayor really loses face – there was a shooting, in this supposedly very peaceful place while the ministers were a ten minute bike-ride away. But still, when caught, the shooters can say – “This had nothing to do with the summit”

    But of course…. this is just a theory I have… and I`m probably wrong….it must have just been a coincidence… the timing….