$78 Million in Cash Found and Turned In After Japanese Quake

Officials are busting open safes to figure out which loot's whose

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Japanese officials are reporting that $78 million in cash has been turned in to the government since the March 11 twin-punch earthquake and tsunami hit the county. $48 million was recovered from the wallets and purses found in debris; the other $30 million was in safes, many of which floated in from the Pacific Ocean after coastal homes were destroyed. One safe contained a whopping $1 million by itself. Others were found containing gold bars, valuable antiques, and even children's umbilical cord (which presumably don't factor in to the $78 million figure).

The various media outlets reporting on the cash haul-in use the story to note the honesty of the Japanese people; "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," a Japanese professor tells the Daily Mail, for example. But there's really no evidence that even more cash wasn't stolen instead of turned in or that other peoples would have acted less honestly. Nevertheless, efforts are underway to return the money to their owners. Most wallets have their owners' IDs and the safes are being pried open so that deeds, bank notes, and other identifying paperwork can used to track down who they belong to.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.