Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi in the Japanese Underworld

Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi image

(Reference: Alexander Krivács Schrøder (DarkPhoenix), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

The Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, also known as the Yamabishi, is a notorious organized crime syndicate based in Kobe, Japan.

Established on August 27, 2015, by the founder Kunio Inoue, it has its headquarters located at 3-10-7 Ninomiya-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan.

With a membership estimated to be around 760 individuals as of the end of 2022, the group has a significant presence in the region.

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Background and Formation

The Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi was formed when thirteen leaders broke away from the sixth generation of the Yamaguchi-Gumi, one of Japan's largest and most influential organized crime groups.

Led by Kunio Inoue, formerly the leader of the Yamaken-gumi, this breakaway faction was dissatisfied with the increasing influence and preference given to members of the Nagoya-based Kodokai and Takumi groups within the Yamaguchi-gumi.

One of the primary reasons behind the split was the reduction in the monthly tribute payments that the Kobe side had to make to the Yamaguchi-Gumi.

While the Yamaguchi-gumi demanded monthly payments of 2.65 million yen, the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi reduced the amount to just 100,000 yen.

Additionally, some high-ranking members of the Kobe faction received substantial allowances, sometimes reaching tens of millions of yen.

This split led to a series of violent conflicts between the two factions, resulting in numerous incidents such as shootings and vehicle attacks.

From 2015 to March 6, 2016, there were 49 incidents reported in 20 prefectures, and the police officially recognized it as an ongoing feud on March 7, 2016.

By the end of 2019, a total of 72 incidents had taken place.

History of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi

The exact timeline of the formation of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi is not clear.

However, it is believed that the plan was set in motion around October 2014, as some members hinted at their departure to journalist Atsushi Mizoguchi.

On August 26, 2015, Kunio Inoue and the other twelve leaders officially left the Yamaguchi-gumi.

The following day, they held a ceremony and announced the formation of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, with Kunio Inoue as its leader.

In response, the Yamaguchi-gumi imposed severe disciplinary measures on the thirteen individuals, including Kunio Inoue, who were expelled from the group.

After the split, the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi absorbed several affiliated groups and former members of disbanded organizations affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi.

By the end of 2015, it boasted a total membership of approximately 6,100 individuals, including around 2,800 full members and 3,400 associate members.

In February 2016, the group announced the establishment of its headquarters and administrative functions, which were previously undefined.

They set up their main office at the headquarters of one of their affiliate groups

In April 2017, some factions within the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi disagreed with the group's operational policies and split from the organization.

They formed a new group called the "Ninkyo-dan Group" (now known as the Kizuna-kai).

This split weakened the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, causing a decline in membership.

In December 2019, the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, along with the Yamaguchi-gumi, was officially designated as a specific organized crime group by the Public Safety Commissions of six prefectures.

The designation came into effect on January 7, 2020.

By July 2020, the group faced further setbacks when the Yamaken-gumi, its largest and most influential faction led by Kunio Inoue, left the organization.

This departure, followed by the dissolution of the Ikeda-gumi and Masaki-gumi, two other prominent factions, led to a rapid decline in membership.

By the end of 2021, the group's membership had dwindled to around 1,000 individuals.

As of 2022, it is estimated that the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi has around 760 members, including approximately 330 full members and 430 associate members.

Philosophy and Guidelines

Like the Yamaguchi-gumi, the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi follows a set of principles known as the "Gokajou," which was established by Kazuo Taoka, a former leader of the Yamaguchi-gumi.

It consists of five fundamental rules that are recited during regular meetings:

  1. Respect harmony and unity within the organization.
  2. Show love and respect when interacting with others.
  3. Observe proper hierarchy and conduct yourself with respect and courtesy.
  4. Maintain personal integrity and avoid bringing shame to the group.
  5. Learn from the experiences of past leaders and strive for personal growth.


The Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi also sets annual guidelines to promote specific values within the organization.

These guidelines reflect the group's aspirations and serve as guiding principles for its members.

Some of the past guidelines include:

Year Guidelines Meaning
2018 Ittoushouguu Each person illuminates a corner, creating harmony among people
2019 Isshin'ichii United in mind and purpose
2020 Fuekiryuukou Retain the essence that never changes while embracing new changes
2021 Kongoubukkai Unbreakable like a diamond
2022 Kokukugirei Persevere through hardships and remain committed to one's principles

Organizational Structure

The Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi's leadership hierarchy consists of the leader, the executive members, and the lower-ranking members.


Kunio Inoue: Formerly the assistant head of the Yamaguchi-gumi and leader of the Yamaken-gumi, he has been the leader of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi since its formation in August 2015.

Executive Members

  • Deputy Head: Keisuke Kojima, originally from the Nakano-gumi in Osaka Prefecture
  • Sub-Deputy Heads: Megumi Kondo from the Tokushinkai in Tokyo, and Kazumi Miyashita from the Nishiwaki-gumi in Kobe City
  • Chairman of the Organization: Shiro Motomitsu, from the Abe-gumi in Fukuoka Prefecture
  • Sub-Deputy Head Assistant: Yasumichi Fujita, from the Eikumi in Osaka City

Lower-ranking Members

The Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi has a wide range of lower-ranking members who contribute to the organization's activities and operations.

These members include individuals from various affiliated groups and former members of disbanded organizations.


The Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi has emerged as a powerful force in the Japanese underworld since its formation in 2015.

Despite facing internal conflicts and declining membership, the group continues to operate and exert influence in the region.

With its unique philosophy and organizational structure, the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi remains a significant player in the complex world of organized crime in Japan.

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