Crime-busting deliveryman foils Japan mobsters

A deliveryman sorts packages on a street in Tokyo on Sept 16, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (AFP) - Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's ... Deliveryman!

A mystery crime-fighting superhero is striking fear into the hearts of Japan's criminals after bravely foiling an 'armed' hold-up by a pair of yakuza gangsters, local media reported.

When the mobsters waved a replica gun in the face of the 38-year-old courier in an attempt to steal a luxury watch, they got more than they bargained for.

The intrepid deliveryman - whose true identity, in the best superhero tradition, remains unknown - snatched the fake weapon and forcibly took back the package, according to Tokyo police.

Suspects Yusuke Kodama, 32, and Hidekazu Oba, 35, both gang members from the Matsuba-kai crime syndicate, were arrested on suspicion of attempted extortion, the Metropolitan Police Department said.

Oba had ordered an US$8,000 (S$11,134) Rolex wristwatch but when the beefy deliveryman arrived and handed it over the two mobsters staged a fight to avoid paying up, telling the courier: "You had better get out of here."

Rather then flee in terror, however, the deliveryman overpowered them before calling the police.

A police spokesperson confirmed that Oba had confessed to the crime, saying: "The deliveryman was too tough, we were no match for him."

Japan's yakuza, who are notorious for their strict codes of conduct, are facing increased resistance from not only police but ordinary citizens, who are under pressure to shun the mobs or be named and shamed.

In recent years, laws have been passed to put the squeeze on firms who do business with the yakuza, famous for removing their own pinkies as a sacrifice for offending their bosses.

Tougher anti-gang laws and years of economic stagnation have seen the number of active mobsters drop to around 53,000, from 80,000 in 2009, according to the national police agency.

The yakuza, who are not outlawed but regulated and monitored, depend largely on drug trafficking, loan sharking and protection rackets for their income, although they also run legitimate enterprises.

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