• Kyodo News

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International criminal organizations are increasingly targeting Japan as their members, the locations where they commit crimes and their victims have become more multinational, the National Police Agency said in its white paper released Friday.

While members of foreign crime rings have tended to stay in Japan for a short period of time to steal or engage in other criminal activities before fleeing overseas, such groups are now coordinating with domestic underworld syndicates and repeatedly committing crimes using existing “criminal infrastructure,” according to the annual paper.

In analyzing the globalization of crime, the document points to underground banks, suburban scrap yards and groups specializing in arranging fake marriages as examples of such infrastructure.

Police inspected in June a total of more than 400 yards to determine whether they were being used as a base for global criminal activities. Some scrap yards were found to have been used to disassemble stolen cars and heavy machinery to export parts.

Last year some 13,200 foreigners were rounded up on suspicion of being involved in criminal activities, down roughly 40 percent from the 2004 peak.

“The extent of how much crime has become globalized cannot be grasped through statistics,” the paper says, attributing part of the reason to difficulties in solving crimes committed by foreigners — which are more likely to be carried out by multiple culprits — than those committed by Japanese.

To counter the trend, the agency set up in February an office specializing in collecting and analyzing intelligence on crimes committed by foreigners.

It aims to establish a system in which investigators across the nation will be able to work in an integrated manner to counter such criminal activity.

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