Money-Packed Safes Wash Up in Japan

Problem acute in a nation where many elderly do not use banks
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2011 9:34 AM CDT

(Newser) – Last month's devastating earthquake in Japan has created an unexpected problem—there's cash everywhere. Many people in Japan, especially the elderly, stash their money at home, and hundreds, if not thousands, of safes filled with valuables that were washed away in the massive tsunami are turning up. But identifying the owners unmarked safes is proving extremely difficult, and officials estimate less than 15% of valuables have been returned so far.

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"At first we put all the safes in the station," said one police official in Ofunato. "But then there were too many, so we had to move them." An there's an even tougher problem: What to do with the wads of cash being found in envelopes, unmarked bags, boxes and furniture. "Even if we receive 50,000 yen in cash, and someone comes in saying they've lost 50,000 yen, it's nearly impossible to prove exactly whose money we actually have," says one officer. For the full story, see the AP report. (Read more tsunami stories.)

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