2 in ‘Luffy’ Group Get Speedy Deportation from Philippines

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Philippine Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla discusses the deportation of two Japanese suspects at a press conference in Manila on Monday.

Two of four suspects who allegedly masterminded the recent string of robberies were deported from the Philippines to Japan on Tuesday.

The two had been detained in the Philippines. They are suspected of having hired the perpetrators of the robberies online.

Though not all four suspects were deported, the Philippine authorities were swift in transferring the two suspects, taking only about a week from a renewed demand for action by the Japanese authorities. Japanese police aim to begin a full-fledged investigation into the robberies.

Courtesy of Philippine National Police
From left, Kiyoto Imamura, Toshiya Fujita

The two deported on Tuesday were Kiyoto Imamura, 38, and Toshiya Fujita, 38.

The two individuals remaining in the Philippines, Yuki Watanabe, 38, and Tomonobu Kojima, 45, will be deported and handed over to Japanese police as early as Wednesday.

Courtesy of Philippine National Police
From left, Yuki Watanabe, Tomonobu Kojima

The Metropolitan Police Department obtained arrest warrants for the four between 2019 and 2021, alleging that they were involved in a special fraud case.

The Japanese authorities had at the time asked their Philippine counterparts to hand over the four, but the Philippine side had not acted on the request due to ongoing criminal trials for the four within the country.

However, during an investigation of the robberies, Japanese police found that a person or persons calling themselves “Luffy” had likely instructed the robbers on how to commit the crimes in Japan from an immigration detention facility in the Philippines.

The Japanese side again requested the Philippine authorities to deport and hand over the four on Jan. 30. The Philippine side then made an about-face.

Though the deportation process usually takes at least several weeks, the current deportations took only about one week to execute.

The quick turnaround is thought to have been due to diplomatic concerns ahead of a visit by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to Japan, scheduled for Wednesday.