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Asia Minute: Tokyo’s Miraculous Lost and Found

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

If you lose something, there are a number of options to explore. Around the state, you can post information on Craig’s list, and other online sites. In Honolulu, you can check the police department—which collects items that people find.  But the lost and found operations in one Asian city are on another scale entirely. HPR’s Bill Dorman explains in today’s Asia Minute.


If you’re going to lose something in a city, you could do a lot worse than losing it in Tokyo.

Police departments around the Japanese capital collect lost items. Keys. Bags and luggage. Umbrellas by the thousands.

And cash. Lots of cash.

In fact, last year, Tokyo police say more than 32 million dollars in cash was turned in to stations around the city.

That’s more than 87,000 dollars a day—a total of 3.67 billion yen and a new record.

In Japan, cash is still king in a lot of ways.

Earlier this year, the Bank of Japan reported that the country has the most cash in circulation among 18 major developed countries and regions it studied.

Taxi drivers in the country are famous for turning in lost wallets and purses—and the same instinct leads people on sidewalks to do the same.

There’s a process, of course.

Anyone turning in found money can get a small reward if the owner is tracked down or if no one claims it after three months, it really is finders keepers. Although that is the exception.

Of that more than 32 million dollars that was turned in, Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department says about three-quarters of it wound up with its original owners.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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