In the wake of December’s tightening of controls on industrial waste disposal and of an annual increase in illegal dumping cases, police are stepping up a nationwide crackdown on offenders, many of whom are suspected of having links to the mob.

The National Police Agency has instructed prefectural police to take action against unlicensed companies that unlawfully dump waste construction materials and plastics.

Twenty-three prefectural police departments have so far dispatched inspectors to the industrial waste sections of local governments to coordinate their efforts. Police officials say the inspectors will be able to take action more quickly by sharing information with local governments.

According to the NPA, 17 of those departments transferred inspectors to local governments last April. Gunma, Miyazaki, Osaka, Oita and Tochigi prefectures sent investigators this month.

Police have exposed an increasing number of cases throughout Japan in which unlicensed firms have been found to be illegally disposing of waste construction materials and used tires.

Last year, police discovered 912 such cases, up 25 percent from the previous year. The largest number of cases involved demolition companies that illegally entrusted disposal of the waste to subcontractors. Other cases involved illegal disposal methods and operations by unlicensed firms.

In February, the owner of a waste disposal business in Mino, Gifu Prefecture, was arrested on suspicion of illegally dumping 170,000 used tires in a forest. The suspect ignored orders to remove the mountain of tires, and they caught fire, burning for three days.

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