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By Zach Arnold | March 4, 2012
- Miro Mijatovic: Fedor, Mirko, and PRIDE yakuza’s loaded pistols
- Miro Mijatovic on the yakuza ownership war of PRIDE in November 2003
- Beginner’s searchable guide on cast of characters involved in PRIDE scandal
“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.”