• Kyodo

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Police launched a murder investigation Tuesday after unearthing the third unidentified body in a campground parking lot in Tsuru, Yamanashi Prefecture, based on a tip they received several months ago.

Some 100 investigators continued to comb the site for more bodies.

Police believe that all three bodies found Monday and Tuesday were buried around the same time, several years ago.

The first two bodies, apparently those of adult males, were unearthed Monday afternoon by police, who received the anonymous tip months ago.

The person making the tip claimed to be a former employee of the local construction firm that managed the campground and said he buried a container there around May three years ago, and that a friend had suggested that it might have contained a human body.

One of the bodies had masking tape around the neck, while the other was covered by a sheet. Both were buried about 1 meter underground and apparently several years have passed since death, police said.

The third body was found nearby Tuesday morning, buried at a depth of about 1.5 meters, they said. It appears to be that of an adult male wearing a black top and trousers, and some cord was wrapped around a part of the body.

Investigators said they were trying to identify the bodies and would conduct autopsies to determine cause of death.

Sources said police believe the three were former employees of local construction company Asahi Kensetsu, the manager of the campground located some 2 km off a prefectural road in a mountainous area of eastern Yamanashi Prefecture.

Police arrested former Asahi Kensetsu President Yoshihiro Asa and two former employees late last month on suspicion of pocketing some 1 million yen in insurance money that should have gone to a former employee, and they will look into whether the three suspects were involved in the murder and disposal of the bodies found at the campsite.

According to local construction industry sources, the company, which has since collapsed, had been involved in providing outsourcing services. Non-Japanese and laborers from Tokyo and the Kansai region had been housed at a dormitory near the company, they said.

Sources close to the investigation added that authorities on several occasions warned Asahi Kensetsu over its failure to pay workers and its improper recruiting practices in Osaka’s Nishinari Ward, an area known for its high concentration of day laborers.

In June, a fire broke out at the firm’s dormitory, leaving four workers injured. At that time, the company had around 60 employees.

“I don’t know what the company was doing, because I never met people from the firm,” said Kiyo Kuriyama, the 50-year-old owner of an inn located about 500 meters from the campground. “I’m worried that the incident would scare visitors off from the area.”

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