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Miro Mijatovic: The yakuza’s contract to kill him & PRIDE’s execution

By Zach Arnold | March 4, 2012

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Transcript of Dan Herbertson interview with Miro Mijatovic for Spike TV’s MMA Uncensored Live

“I’m not going after the top (yakuza) boss because that’s not my battle. So, the compromise solution, in the classic Japanese way, was brokered by the police. There was still an outstanding contract on my life from Yamaguchi-gumi. My criminal complaint was still oustanding and the target had become not Ishizaka but the top boss of Yamaguchi-gumi. So, there was a lot of nervousness in the air, as you could imagine, between all sides. The police… brokering a deal is probably the wrong way to describe but they put together a deal where PRIDE was going to be taken off TV, which meant that they were going to be effectively destroyed which was, for me, you know… only justice for what they’ve done to my life. On the other hand, both sides would enter into what would be a non-aggressive pact. In other words, Yamaguchi-gumi would, you know… pull down all their, uh, contracts and also all aggressive, you know, um… efforts towards me and I’d also get out of the fight game. That was part of my sort of agreement. And, also, I’d shut up for a certain period of time. There was no, um, time limit put on there, there’s no contract out there but of course my life had been a mess for three years. I’ve been running around hiding and I was ready to re-start my life, so for me having PRIDE pulled off Fuji TV and having Yamaguchi-gumi pull away their aggressive sort of actions towards me seemed like a pretty good deal. And, so, that’s what happened and I basically got out of the fight game and stayed out of the fight game and, you know, PRIDE was eventually sold to UFC and that’s how it’s been for since 2007.

“Shukan Gendai had, the problem with Shukan Gendai was that it confused the issue with the arrests of various people. (Seiya) Kawamata came out in Shukan Gendai. While for me it was very convenient because I was working with the Tokyo police and the NPA, which is the Japanese FBI, it was very convenient for me and for my own safety for there to be a lot of confusion as to who was investigating what. So, Kawamata was working with the Kanagawa police and he only started to speak to Shukan Gendai once the Kanagawa police basically said ‘we’re not going to take your case forward any more.” The reason why was, number one, he wasn’t a credible witness. Number two, at that stage I was suing Kawamata in civil court for the $2M that he owed me so that obviously I wasn’t too happy with Kawamata and I wasn’t certainly going to support what Kawamata was up to in the internal battle between two yakuza groups. So, I was working with the Tokyo police and the NPA. Kawamata and his Shukan Gendai articles were a total distraction, but for me a welcome distraction because they put a lot of the focus onto him. People thought that it was Kawamata but, you know, in the background everyone knew that Kawamata was a total joke and the reason he went public was that the Kanagawa police closed the books on his investigation. His background was that he actually was a, a fairly minor member of one of the other major Yamaguchi-gumi groups called Yamaken-gumi. So, you could imagine how much credibility his evidence is going to have in front of prosecutors in a court of law when he starts complaining about being threatened. At the end of the day, he was one of them. So, my evidence was crucial for the Kanagawa police. I wasn’t cooperating with them because I refused to cooperate with Kawamata’s criminal complaint. I wanted to run my own with the Tokyo police. So, what was written in the Shukan Gendai articles in terms of what Kawamata said… you know, look, I wasn’t there when Kawamata was threatened but am I surprised that he was threatened? No, you know, I received similar threats from the same groups of people. And I know Kawamata, as soon as he received those threats, jumped on a plane adn took off. So, for most of November & December, he wasn’t even here and obviously of course on the 1st of January (2004) he took off and wasn’t seen again.

“Shukan Gendai was helpful for me in terms of taking the focus away from me and from what I was doing but, at the end of the day, it didn’t move the needle. I mean, in terms of I think a lot of people believe that PRIDE was pulled from Fuji TV because of the influence of Shukan Gendai… that’s not true. Shukan Gendai is owned by Kodansha. That’s the same group that owns TBS. Fuji is a much bigger media organization than TBS and Kodansha and, you know, it’s media. They’re all in it, right? Whether it’s Fuji TV or TBS, they’re all up to their necks in yakuza deal(ing)s, so it’s not a great surprise to anyone who reads articles that there’s connections between the yakuza and TV station producers. So, you know, yes it was… how can I say, it was a surprising thing to put out there in public. Did it have any impact on Fuji TV’s decision to pull PRIDE off TV? I would say zero because, you know, that’s water off a duck’s back. What had the influence was when (Toshiro) Igari and the NPA and the Tokyo police turned up to [Fuji TV] and said, “take [PRIDE] off TV.’ It was an instruction that was given, as I think Igari wrote in his book or his final book, so… that’s the real reason why [PRIDE] came off TV.

“There’s a belief in Japan that there’s still a market for the fighting business. You know, personally I believe that the damage that was done to the major brands, K-1, PRIDE, the pro-wrestling brands, also the new sort of regulations against the yakuza make it almost impossible for any of the old players to do anything serious in the industry. So, if people think that they can bring back the days when you had, you know, fighting in prime time TV slots, it’s not going to happen with the current batch of has-beens that are still hanging around the industry or with, you know, the usual cast of scumbags who hang around the industry and have been around the industry for the last five-to-six years.”

Topics: Japan, MMA, Media, PRIDE, Yakuza, Zach Arnold | 9 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

9 Responses to “Miro Mijatovic: The yakuza’s contract to kill him & PRIDE’s execution”

  1. ttt says:

    zach do you plan to offer any commentary on this matter? how credible is mijatovic as a witness?

    what is the benefit for PRIDE’s owners to be taken off television? some form of immunity? it is surprising that he is saying Shukan Gendai did not actually make a large impact as you made it out to be in the past when in fact it had more to do with Igari and the NPA.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      what is the benefit for PRIDE’s owners to be taken off television? some form of immunity? it is surprising that he is saying Shukan Gendai did not actually make a large impact as you made it out to be in the past when in fact it had more to do with Igari and the NPA.

      On the PRIDE removal front — it makes sense. Basically, rather than police getting into a gun war over the group behind PRIDE, you go to the larger family and tell them that the jig’s up by taking away the cash cow, the front company, instead of arresting people.

      After all, the shadow owner of PRIDE never got arrested, did he?

      Gendai was effective — many have their own opinions. It was effective because this was a totally taboo topic and look what happened. Miro is right that Kodansha/TBS is the power source of Gendai, which is why K-1 had great interest in this public attack through Ishii’s yakuza fixer Kawamata.

      No one can deny the damage done publicly — you had Kawamata say his own yakuza stooges turned on him to join Sakakibara. Then things started picking up when Sakuraba eventually left PRIDE to go to HERO’s. Remember Gendai exposing how PRIDE allegedly tried to block Sakuraba’s driveway so he couldn’t go to the HERO’s show under a Tiger Mask? It was so absurdly entertaining and damaging.

      But sure, you could have a PR front and have a back channel attack as well. I don’t doubt Miro working with Igari, since Igari himself wrote about it in his book (he got killed before his final book was published, and Kodansha was the publisher).

      The most interesting thing to note is that there hasn’t been any sort of blowback to Miro in Japanese circles. They are scared to death to talk about this topic. The writers don’t want to dig up old history and have yakuza pissed off at them, but you would think the players involved would have tried to use the writers as intermediaries already to counter the narrative… and they didn’t.

      My guess is that there’s shock that a man the PRIDE crew thought was dead is now surfacing. In Japan, that kind of thing raises questions less on the actual interview claims and more on ‘what’s this guy’s motives coming up here?’

  2. RST says:

    I dont know?…

    It still seems like the end game is that Pride is dead?!…

    And its all over?!…

    And it would probably do everybody a service, to move on…

    Its still fascinating, just to document this stuff

  3. MMA Tycoon says:

    “This video is unavailable in your location”. Lame. What’s the point in that? They’re never going to show it on UK tv.

  4. Michael says:

    Zach:

    Thanks for the great stories regarding Pride. My 10 yo son was watching the Best of Pride this weekend and was asking why the organization ended and the demise of major Japanese fight promotions. I told him it had a lot to do with the Yakuza but didn’t have any specifics. Now I’ve got the details!!

  5. Coconut says:

    It will be interesting to see what happens to Miro from this point forward….

  6. white ninja says:

    Zach – Im not surprised that nobody in Japan wants to touch this story – last guy who wrote about it – Igari – is dead

    And below is what Igari wrote about Pride and Sakakibara in his last book which corroborates Mijatovic’s claims –

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/46533478/Miro-Mijatovic-v-Pride-FC-Nobuyuki-Sakakibara-Yamaguchi-Gumi

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