Thai police have apprehended a former Japanese organized crime member who is suspected in the murder of a gangster in Mie Prefecture 15 years ago, reports NHK (Jan. 11).
Shirai was arrested during a shopping trip on Wednesday, in the central market town of Lopburi, 160 kilometres north of Bangkok.
'The suspect admitted that he was the leader of the Yakuza sub-gang Kodokai, ' Thai police spokesman General Wirachai Songmetta said, referring to an affiliate of Japan's largest Yakuza gang, the Yamaguchi-gumi.
Shigeharu Shirai, 74, was a boss of the notorious Japanese mafia, the Yakuza, until he fled to Thailand in 2003 after supposedly murdering another gang leader.
Around 70,000 Japanese live in Thailand and Japan is the country's biggest investor, largely in the automobile and electronics sectors.
Police said the attention of Japanese authorities was drawn after pictures of Yakuza tattoos covering Shirai's back went viral on social media.According to the Nation, a Facebook user who himself has colourful tattoos all over his body, posted photos of the Japenese man in August past year. When I grow up, will I look like you?'
The photos were shared more than 10,000 times, catching the attention of the Japanese police who asked their Thai counterparts to arrest the man.
Shigeharu Shirai is also missing the pinky finger on his left had.
Shirai had built a new life in Thailand and kept a "low profile", marrying a Thai woman and drifting into a seemingly peaceful retirement.
Shirai must first face three charges of illegal entry before he is sent back to face the original charges he had managed to evade for some many years in Japan.
Traditionally they have been tolerated as a necessary evil to keep order on the streets, although the authorities are now trying to reign in their criminal behaviour, banning banks from allowing gangsters to set up accounts. Last month, Thai police arrested four members of a Hells Angels biker gang accused of drugs offences, violence, and posing a threat to society.
He was arrested for entering Thailand illegally without a passport or visa and will now be re-arrested and face prosecution in his homeland.