Police are on the lookout for a 62-year-old member of a yakuza crime syndicate, who is on the wanted list for allegedly fatally shooting a man at a Starbucks outlet in Aeon Town Kawanoe in Shikokuchuo city, Ehime Prefecture on Sunday afternoon.  

An Ikeda-Gumi Yakuza Member 

The suspect, Yuichiro Maetani, is believed to be a senior member of the Ikeda-gumi syndicate, which is based in Okayama city. According to the police, he is around 163 centimeters tall and was wearing a red jacket and beige pants at the time of the shooting. 

The victim was identified as Yuichiro Ishikawa, 49. He was seated on the terrace before being shot in the chest three times. According to the autopsy, he bled to death. Police suspect that the two men knew each other and were involved in a spat. Though the incident occurred at around 4pm when there were several other customers in the shop, no other injuries were reported. The assailant quickly fled from the scene.  

Gun Crime Extremely Rare in Japan 

Gun violence is extremely rare in this country with annual death rates rarely reaching double figures. In 2022, four people died after being shot in Japan. That included two victims who were part of an organized crime group. One of the other two was, of course, the former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He was killed by a homemade firearm while giving a stump speech in Nara Prefecture. The assassination of such a prominent public figure in broad daylight sent shock waves around the globe. 

The fact that it had occurred in a relatively gun-free nation like Japan made it even more shocking. Enacted in 1958, the country’s Firearm and Sword Possession Control law bans citizens from possessing firearms or swords. Though some exceptions are made for hunting, sport or industrial purposes, these laws are strictly adhered to. However, as this week’s incident in Ehime Prefecture shows, shootings can occur anywhere, even in places with extremely strict gun laws. 

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