• Kyodo

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Residents of Mitake, Gifu Prefecture, announced a 3 million yen bounty Wednesday for information leading to the arrest of two men who attacked and seriously injured the town’s mayor in 1996.

About 60 residents collected the funds with the hope of breaking the 7-year-old case, according to the organizer of the campaign. The bounty will go into effect Saturday.

On Oct. 30, 1996, Mayor Yoshiro Yanagawa was attacked by a pair of unidentified men, one of whom hit him in the head with a baseball bat.

The Gifu Prefectural Police investigated the case as attempted murder. Yanagawa at that time was opposing construction of an industrial waste disposal site in the town.

In a news conference Wednesday, Yanagawa said the disposal-site dispute was the only motive behind the attack that he can think of. The project is still pending.

He said he hopes the bounty will help expose the truth behind the case.

Gifu police also believe the mayor was attacked due to his opposition to the waste-disposal project. Investigators said they are having trouble finding suspects because there are too many people involved in the project.

Citing the murder of a public worker in Kanuma, Tochigi Prefecture, in 2001 over a dispute involving industrial waste disposal, Yanagawa said that unless his case is resolved, there may be more violence over the project in Miyake.

The attack on the mayor “was violence inflicted on all the residents of the town,” said Akira Tanaka, one of the organizers of the bounty. “We will never let the incident be forgotten.”

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