The Earthquake in Japan is very tragic but there are many things we can learn. The short article below shows how important it is to store your valuable documents and items (including cash) offsite in a safe deposit box. Keeping these items at home and in a safe is just not a very good idea….
OFUNATO, Japan — 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, about $350 billion worth of yen doesn’t circulate.
There’s even a Japanese term for this hidden money, “tansu yokin.” Or literally, “wardrobe savings.”
So the massive post-tsunami cleanup under way along hundreds of miles of Japan’s ravaged northeastern coast involves the delicate business of separating junk from valuables. As workers and residents pick through the wreckage, they are increasingly stumbling upon cash and locked safes.
Police departments already stretched thin now face the growing task of managing lost wealth.
“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.
Identifying the owners of lost safes is hard enough. But it’s nearly impossible when it comes to wads of cash being found in envelopes, unmarked bags, boxes and furniture.
With more than 25,000 people believed to have died in the tsunami, many safes could to go unclaimed. Under Japanese law, authorities must store found items for three months. If the owner does not appear within that time, the finder is entitled to the item, unless it contains personal identification such as an address book.
If neither owner nor finder claims it, the government takes possession.