Imagine this. You’re at a fireworks festival with almost one million people in attendance. Everyone is scrambling for a place to sit and stampeding for the exit when it’s over. In between standing in line for a tasty treat and being dazzled by the fireworks spectacle, you realize something terrible. You’ve lost your wallet. Now what?
In Japan, you just go to the nearest police box, or koban! In 2014 alone, a stunning amount of cash and lost possessions was turned into police stations around Tokyo. In cash alone, over 3.3 billion yen was turned in. That’s a whopping US$27.8 million picked up and taken to the authorities. Could that happen anywhere else in the world?
Police stations around Tokyo annually account for cash and other lost items that are turned in. The amount of money that is turned in has been steadily increasing over the past five years and in 2014 the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department reported a record high of 3.3 billion yen.
This staggering figure is accumulated from the millions of lost property cases turned in to police stations. All kinds of denominations, from big to small, are turned in since many Japanese people would report almost any amount of money found. Of this 3.3 billion, 2.4 billion yen (about US$20 million) was returned to the rightful owners, who were either contacted by police directly or went to police boxes in the hope of being reunited with their missing cash or property.
▼”I swear that huge bag of money is mine.”
Image: Flickr (Taichiro Ueki)
In Japan, the police will hold onto lost property for three months, and if no one claims it, the finder can claim it. Even in cases where the owner is found, the finder can still claim 5% to 20% as a reward. Interestingly, what is probably not motivating these good Samaritans is that “finder’s fee” or orei – in the majority of cases, the person who turned in the lost property decided to donate it to the police when the rightful owner was not identified.
It also wasn’t just lost money that was handed in to the authorities. About 560,000 scarves and other articles of clothing were turned in along with 400,000 umbrellas, 340,000 credit cards and other identification cards, 310,000 IC cards (like Pasmo/Suica) and other prepaid cards. Lost animals were also bundled off to the koban as about 900 parrots and rabbits were also turned in.
▼Here’s your rabbit, safe and sound! Now, about my 20% finder’s fee…
Image: Flickr (Jyunyuan)
The kindness and politeness of the Japanese people is quite legendary, but even so this statistic is quite surprising. Tokyo will surely use this to promote the safety and goodwill of Japan for the 2020 Olympic Games. But with such an amazing story, how could you not?