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Seven prefectures in the Kanto and Kansai regions jointly filed a request Monday with the central government to increase the number of police and immigration officers assigned to major prefectures.

Governors and other officials of Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo submitted their request to Hidehiko Sato, commissioner general of the National Police Agency, at the agency’s headquarters in Tokyo.

The prefectures urged the central government to take swift measures to reduce crime, a growing national concern. According to Tokyo Metropolitan Government officials, there were more than 2.85 million criminal cases nationwide in 2002, the worst figure in the postwar period.

The officials also stressed the need to boost police effectiveness. The police arrest ratio has recently dwindled to around one in five cases.

The prefectures said crimes by foreigners, especially by those in the country illegally, are on the rise. In the first half of this year, according to the National Police Agency, crimes allegedly committed by foreigners accounted for a scant 1.39 percent of all cases.

The government needs to galvanize immigration checks by increasing the number of immigration officers, the prefectural representatives said.

The governors of Tokyo and Osaka, Kyoto and Saitama prefectures held a joint news conference in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, to explain their actions.

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara said it was meaningful for the seven prefectures to file a joint request to the central government, which has been ineffective in stemming the nation’s growing crime rate.

He said Tokyo and other major prefectures are suffering the effects of rising crime, despite efforts to reduce crimes through greater cooperation with local residents.

“The central government should utilize the riot police in crime prevention as well as increasing the number of (regular) police officers,” Ishihara said.

He said the Tokyo Metropolitan Government would be willing to dispatch officials to support the immigration office, which is manned with 2,500 immigration officers, if asked to do so.

The NPA has 236,661 police officers deployed nationwide, including 111,914 in the seven prefectures that made the request Monday. It has been trying to increase the total number of officers by 10,000 by 2005.

The agency has said it might put more police on the streets if it finds that the increase in police numbers is not effective enough.

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