Former Japanese gangster surrenders himself to police

A former Japanese gangster surrendered himself to police after fatally shooting an officer, injuring three other people including two of his own children and taking his ex-wife hostage in a tense, day-long standoff.

The gunman, who had holed up in his home while nearly 200 police secured the area, emerged with his hands up and was taken into custody in Nagakute town, said police spokesman Atsushi Kabahara.

Hisato Obayashi, 50, shot the couple's son, daughter and two policemen one of whom died later. He kept his ex-wife hostage for more than 24 hours.

Obayashi's former wife, identified as Michiko Mori, escaped through a bathroom window during the siege. Police said she had bruises on her face, but no other injuries.

News reports said Obayashi was a former mobster affiliated with Japan's largest crime syndicate, the Yamaguchi-gumi, but his motive for the rampage was not known.

"It is extremely sad that one officer was killed in the line of duty and another was seriously injured," police official Hiroyuki Fujimura said at a news conference Friday evening after the gunman gave himself up.

The violence in the suburb of Nagoya erupted after an unidentified emergency caller to police cried, "My father has gone berserk with a gun!" Kyodo News agency reported.

Police said Obayashi's wounded daughter had been cooperating with them and spoke with her father several times, urging him to surrender.

In 2005, Mori reported to police she had been abused by Obayashi, and the shooting might be related to their relationship problems, Kyodo said.

The use and possession of guns is relatively alien to the Japanese public. Handguns are strictly limited to police and other professionals such as shooting instructors.

Crime syndicates, however, smuggle foreign guns into Japan. Of the 53 shootings reported in 2006, two-thirds were blamed on organized crime groups, the police agency says.

Amid the standoff, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki urged government officials to step up gun control measures.

"This is a gun crime that clearly threatens the peace of public life. It is absolutely unacceptable," Shiozaki said.

Sanae Takaichi, the head of a government gun-control task force, called for "drastic, tougher gun control-measures."

Police say Obayashi took Mori hostage, shot his children Kento Obayashi, 25, and Risa Obayashi, 21 and then shot at police responding to the emergency call.

Riot police officer Kazuho Hayashi, 23, was shot in the chest while rescuing another wounded policeman and later died at a hospital. Hayashi was a member of a special police assault team that handles hijackings and hostage crises. The last fatal shooting of an on-duty policeman in Japan was in 2001, according to the National Police Agency.

Obayashi released his children early in the standoff, and they were taken to a hospital, but their conditions were not life-threatening.

According to witness accounts, several people were arguing outside the suspect's house Thursday before the sound of gunshots rang out, the national daily Asahi reported.

Japanese media quoted neighbors as saying they have occasionally heard angry shouting coming from the gunman's house.

Police cordoned off the residential area surrounding Obayashi's home. Schools in the area suspended classes Friday.

The incident came just a month after the fatal shooting of the mayor of Nagasaki by an organized crime chief, and a gangster shooting in a Tokyo suburb only a few days later.

Analysts say the recent shootings indicate that gangsters are financially strapped and facing difficulty in keeping their turf after the government stepped up anti-gang measures in the 1990s.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova