Yoshinori Watanabe

Yoshinori Watanabe

Infobox Person
name= Yoshinori Watanabe

birth_date=Birth date and age|1941|1|8|mf=y
birth_place= Tochigi prefecture, Japan

nihongo|Yoshinori Watanabe|渡辺 芳則|Watanabe Yoshinori|born January 8, 1941 was the fifth "kumicho" (chairman or Godfather) of the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan's largest yakuza organization.

He rose to power in 1989, at a time when a weakened Yamaguchi-gumi was struggling to recover from the three-year Yama-Ichi War. But under Watanabe's leadership, the gang again rose to unexpected heights and financial prosperity.

After the Kobe earthquake of 1995, Watanabe ordered his yakuza soldiers to distribute food and supplies to survivors.

On Friday July 29, 2005, Yoshinori Watanabe stepped down as "kumicho". He was the first "kumicho" of the Yamaguchi-gumi to be succeeded while alive. The announcement was made at a meeting of high ranking Yamaguchi bosses at which "saiko-komon" Saizo Kishimoto read a prepared statement. Many of the yakuza in attendance reportedly burst into tears at the news. Watanabe was replaced by his second-in-command Kenichi Shinoda.

On his retirement, he was quoted as saying "I've been "kumicho" for 16 years, but I have been sick for the past four years and can no longer fulfill my responsibilities." Watanabe, an expert on Chinese literature in his spare time, is reportedly in poor health.

External links

* [http://gangstersinc.tripod.com/Watanabe.html Biography]
* [http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/waiwai/face/archive/news/2005/20050805p2g00m0dm010000c.html Asahi Geino article on Watanabe from the Mainichi Daily News]
* [http://www3.tky.3web.ne.jp/~edjacob/mostdangerous.htm Biography]

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