Woman turns 88, gives town ¥1 billion gift


A woman donated ¥1 billion in cash Friday to her hometown of Minamiashigara, Kanagawa Prefecture, population 44,000, on her 88th birthday to promote education and sports.

One-time teacher Chizuko Yokomizo, a resident of the seaside resort town of Oiso in the same prefecture, said she decided more than 40 years ago to donate ¥1 billion to the city when she turned 88 and continued to save to achieve that goal.

The pyramid of cash — 100 bundles of bank notes each containing ¥10 million — at City Hall weighed about 100 kg.

The amount, which accounts for 6.7 percent of the city’s general account budget for fiscal 2006, is equivalent to about 53 percent of its education expenses.

“It is the greatest happiness in my life to be able to do this favor for my hometown,” Yokomizo said. “I’d like to continue my efforts for children’s education as long as I live.”

The town plans to establish a Yokomizo memorial fund aimed at promoting children’s sports and cultural activities, helping child-raising and assisting in educational studies, officials said.

Yokomizo was born in 1919 to a family of teachers. After the war, she and her late husband established a highly successful kitchen equipment venture.

In 1999, Yokomizo donated ¥500 million to Oiso, which used the money to build a welfare facility for disabled people.