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The government spent 328 million yen in fiscal 2000 to remove garbage that was either dumped deliberately or had fallen from moving vehicles from beside national highways, according to a Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry report.

In the government’s first study on highway littering, the ministry said 351,400 items of garbage — ranging from motorcycles to cardboard — were collected on 21,642 km of highways administered by the national agency or on public land earmarked for road construction.

The ministry said the amount of money spent on collecting the litter in fiscal 2000 was 18 percent higher than fiscal 1998.

The ministry has no data for the volume of dumped litter prior to fiscal 2000, but said it believes the highways have become an attractive dumping ground, especially for television sets, refrigerators, washing machines and air conditioners — the four electric appliances that are subject to a recycling fee under a new law that took effect April.

According to the survey, deliberate illegal dumping accounted for 103,600 items of garbage while the rest fell from moving vehicles.

Of the total, lumber comprised the largest category, with some 50,700 items, followed by 32,800 pieces of cardboard, 18,200 magazines and newspapers, 6,600 blankets and comforters and 6,100 tires.

In addition, 4,700 bicycles, 600 household electric appliances and 300 motorbikes were abandoned.

In terms of location, the most popular dumping site was unused public land the state has acquired for building roads. Next came highway embankments, followed by emergency parking areas, empty lots under elevated highways and highway median strips.

By region, the three largest cities — Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya — accounted for 100,000 items of garbage and the combined garbage disposal bill came to 207 million yen.

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