IMPRISONED in a Japanese hotel room with a Beretta 9mm pistol pressed against his temple, a grim calculus of life and death began to play out in the mind of Australian businessman Miro Mijatovic. Death, as he saw it, was a possibility but not a certainty."I am 6'6" [1.98m] and I was pretty sure they were going to struggle to deal with getting a body the size of mine out of the hotel," he recalls.
The hours rolled by as Mijatovic sat slumped in a chair in a corner of the room, the air filled with cigarette smoke from the chain-smoking yakuza - as Japan's mafiosi are known - and the sour scent of his own fear-induced sweat. "Every now and again [their leader] would just explode and start screaming, 'You don't know what you are up against!' and thumping the table," recalls Mijatovic.
For three days the martial arts fight promoter was held like this while the yakuza demanded he relinquish his role as "power agent" in the booming fight industry. It was only when he agreed to sign his fighters over to the yakuza that he was released unharmed on the proviso that he flee the country for good. Instead, Mijatovic, who at one time looked after swimmer Ian Thorpe's interests in Japan, went to the police and launched a probe that resulted in the collapse of the hugely lucrative Japanese fight game.
After several years spent in hiding with a contract out on his life, Mijatovic is finally prepared to reveal how he took on the yakuza and exposed one of Japan's largest sporting scandals. "The two yakuza groups involved in extorting me have now been broken up," Mijatovic told The Weekend Australian Magazine when he arrived at The Australian's Tokyo bureau to tell the story of his abduction. As he sees it, a concerted campaign from law enforcement is hurting the gangs and that has encouraged him to give his personal account.