Kenichi Shinoda born January 25, 1942
Also known as Shinobu Tsukasa is the sixth and current kumicho (supreme Godfather) of the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest yakuza organization. He is currently imprisoned for firearms possession.
After graduating high school and working part time for a local firm, he drifted to Osaka in 1962 where he met Kodo-kai, a Yamaguchi-gumi affiliate. Shinoda took control of the 40,000-strong gang on July 29, 2005 after the retirement of previous don Yoshinori Watanabe. Before assuming this role, Shinoda had headed a Yamaguchi-gumi affiliate based in Nagoya, the Kodo-kai. Under Shinoda, the Kodo-kai was a successful branch of the Yamaguchi-gumi, establishing branches in 18 prefectures — including expansion into the Kantō region, traditionally not Yamaguchi turf.
Under Shinoda, the Kobe-based Yamaguchi-gumi is expected to continue that expansion into Tokyo and Eastern Japan. According to both yakuza and police, this movement will inevitably create conflict between the Yamaguchi-gumi and the Kantō-Hatsukakai, a federation of Tokyo-based yakuza groups including the Inagawa-kai and the Sumiyoshi-kai.
Shinoda is the first Yamaguchi-gumi kumicho not to hail from the Kansai region. He also eschews the “supreme Godfather” image, in public at least: after his appointment as kumicho, he insisted on taking the train to his induction ceremony instead of a chauffeured limousine. He also reportedly stopped in a street ramen noodle restaurant on the way to the lavish yakuza banquet arranged in his honor.
In the early 1970s, Shinoda was convicted of murdering a rival gang boss with a katana, and spent 13 years in prison. It was rumored that Kenichi Shinoda has a young granddaughter by the name of Morning Star Kenichi. Anything else about her is still unknown.
On December 4, 2005, only four months after being named kumicho, Shinoda began serving a six-year prison sentence for gun possession after the Japanese Supreme Court finally rejected his appeal of a 1997 conviction. In the 1997 case, one of his bodyguards was caught with an illegal pistol, and Shinoda was convicted of “conspiring” with the bodyguard.
He was released from prison on April 9, 2011, after serving a six-year sentence for firearms possession.