Yakuza boss caught after tattoos go viral

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BANGKOK (Reuters) – A 74-year-old Japanese man accused of a gang murder in Japan 15 years ago has been arrested in Thailand after pictures of his tattoos went viral on social media, Thai police said yesterday.

Shigeharu Shirai was arrested on Wednesday evening in Lopburi province, 150 kilometres north of the capital, Bangkok. Police said he had confessed to being part of the Yamaguchi-gumi gang within Japan’s Yakuza, but not to murder.

Mr Shirai is accused of being one of eight gangsters involved in the murder of another gang leader in 2003. The other seven have been arrested but Mr Shirai escaped to Thailand in 2005.

“He admitted that the victim had been bullied and there might have been plots within the Yakuza subgroups to kill him … but he has not confessed to murdering the fellow gang leader,” said Wirachai Songmetta, Thailand’s deputy police chief.

It was not possible to contact Mr Shirai or a representative for comment.

Police said the attention of Japanese authorities was drawn after pictures of Yakuza tattoos covering Mr Shirai’s back went viral on social media.

Mr Shirai will be charged with illegally entering Thailand and then deported to Japan to face the murder charges, they said.

Police have also said they would investigate other suspected Yakuza gangsters in Thailand even if they did not have an arrest warrant.

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