Citizens in Japan (especially the elderly) like to keep a fair amount of cash on hand in their homes. And after the earthquake and tsunami wreaked havoc on homes, money (and safes full of money) are washing up on shore and appearing in the debris of ravaged towns.
Safes are washing up along the tsunami-battered coast, and police are trying to find their owners - a unique problem in a country where many people, especially the elderly, still stash their cash at home. By one estimate, some $US350 billion worth of yen doesn't circulate.
And we're not talking about the equivalent of a few hundred dollars in a sock drawer. More like thousands of dollars locked in safes. And we're not talking a few safes. More like several hundred of them.
"At first we put all the safes in the station," said Noriyoshi Goto, head of the Ofunato Police Department's financial affairs department, which is in charge of lost-and-found items. "But then there were too many, so we had to move them." Goto couldn't specify how many safes his department has collected so far, saying only that there were "several hundreds" with more coming in every day.
According to the AP, officials are going to start opening safes in an attempt to identify owners, but they don't quite know what to do with cash showing up in unmarked bags and envelopes. There's absolutely no way to prove who it belongs to, meaning all unclaimed money will go to the Japanese government after three months. [AP]