34 million yen found in garbage goes to city after owner fails to collect

Kyodo

Police still have no idea who owns 33.8 million yen worth of bank notes that were found discarded at a local garbage processing site in December, officials said Friday.

The bank notes were set to be handed over to the municipal government of Gyoda, Saitama Prefecture, at midnight Friday, which marks the expiration of the six-month period during which police can keep lost and found items.

The bank notes were found Dec. 12 among machine-crushed bulky garbage at the facility run by the Gyoda city. They were discovered by workers sorting flammable items from among the garbage.

The bank notes included 3,200 10,000 yen notes and 160 5,000 yen notes, in original or roughly perfect shape. Some of the notes were in fragments, which can be exchanged for new notes at a reduced rate.

In accordance with a relevant law, the local police publicized the news for two weeks after the discovery. If the owner of a lost and found item is not identified within six months of the two-week period, ownership of the item is transferred to the finder — in this case the city government.

The Gyoda Police Station has received calls from a dozen people nationwide who claimed the money belonged to them, but none of their stories were credible.

People called from neighboring Ibaraki Prefecture and Tokyo, as well as from Fukuoka Prefecture.

One of the callers said, “I once threw away 100 million yen because I did not need it at that time.”

Another claimed, “My friend who had won a lottery gave me 50 million yen, but I ditched it because I became scared,” according to police officials.

None of the callers’ stories matched the estimated year when the notes were printed. Some of the notes were found in bundles with a paper band saying that they were printed in 1985.

A Gyoda police official said the bank notes probably belonged to an elderly person who lived alone and kept his or her savings at home. When the person died, all the furniture in the house was probably disposed of, together with the bank notes.

An official of the Gyoda municipal office said the city has not decided how it will use the money.