In our previous blog posts, we have talked about the conditions and status of Japan recovering thousands of safes. Now there is an accurate estimate of what was recovered and the status of the safes. An estimated total of 5,700 safes were recovered and brought to the police in Iwate, Miyagi. This was a much more accurate number than what we discussed a few months ago. Between the months of March 11 and July 10, the safes contained a total of more than 2.37 billion yen, according to the National Police Agency.
The NPA also announced that from the total amount of money that was recovered, about 96 percent or 2.27 billion yen was returned to its owners. That is an astonishing number considering the amount of safes that were recovered. Most of the safes belonged to households and companies that were found by police in the three prefectures while searching for missing people. They also found and recovered safes while clearing up debris and the aftermath of the disaster.
In the three different prefectures, 2,420 safes were found in Miyagi, 2,370 in Iwate and 910 in Fukushima. Most safes were found near the coast when the country was hit by the March 11 tsunami. The police station in Iwate recovered 900 safes and the Ofunato Police Station recovered 840.
In Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture a safe that was recovered and contained the most money found, about 99 million yen, was then returned to the company that owned it. “Many of the safes seem to have belonged to fishermen and fisheries companies, who prefer cash transactions,” a senior police official said.
Considering the amount of safes that were recovered during the time, the three prefectures quickly ran out of space including garages and meeting rooms. Then by the end of March, the NPA decided it was time to open the safes in order to find the owners more quickly and efficiently. They found that many of the safes contained bankbooks, valuable stock certificates and real estate documents that effectively helped identify the owners of each safe. Other safes contained even valuable metals and gold bars.
Other than the safes, an estimated total of 1.3 billion yen was found from purses and bags with credit cards and other items that helped the police identify the owners. A senior official from the NPA estimated that more than 90 percent of recovered cash would be returned to its owners.
“There must be some safes that were stolen after the quake. But the fact that a hefty 2.3 billion yen in cash has been returned to its owners shows the high level of ethical awareness in the Japanese people,” Ryuji Ito, a professor at Yokohama City University, said. According to the Lost Property Law, ownership of an item will be given to the person who found it if the original owner does not claim the item within three months of it being reported found.
It’s been almost 2-3 months since we’ve heard any news regarding the recovering of safes in Japan. It’s amazing that over 90% of the recovered safes were returned to its rightful owners. It definitely shows the amount of integrity, honesty and ethical awareness that the Japanese people have for their community. In such a devastating disaster, there’s just no room for any other types of disasters to happen. In America, when disasters occur, sometimes criminal activity rises that often consists of looting. It’s humbling to know that a country such as Japan can come together to make sure everyone is back on his or her feet.