One person’s trash is another’s five million yen.

The old arcade game Final Fight has taught me two things: I can solve any problem if I punch enough people and wonderful things can be found by smashing unassuming boxes, trash cans, and furniture. And while I admit these principles haven’t gotten me very far in life, they do work for some.

Take a worker at the Otsu City Northern Clean Center for example. On 17 December, the employee was operating a heavy machine to sort garbage when they spotted a large amount of cash among a pile of crushed bulky garbage such as furniture and appliances.

This led to a more thorough search of the trash which revealed even more cash, totaling five million yen (US$38,000) in bills. Since this section of the garbage consisted mainly of discarded large items like chests, dressers, or suitcases, it would seem that someone had squirreled away the money in such an item and either forgot about it or failed to inform the person who threw it away.

▼ News report showing where the cash was found. I also must say that this is the cleanest-looking dump I’ve ever seen.

The disposal facility reported the money to the police who are currently investigating the owner. Because in Japan this kind of bulky garbage requires a fee for pickup, the original owners have to book a pick-up time and pay the needed amount. The records of this process should make it easier for police to track down where the cash came from.

Still, in the event the owner can’t be found within three months, the rule of finders-keepers comes into effect. This is where it gets really murky though, and many readers of the news online speculated who would and should get the money in the event it isn’t claimed.

“The worker was part of a contractor hired by Otsu City, and since it was found during work the money belongs to the city.”
“They say even if the owner is found, the finder can demand a reward of five to 20 percent.”
“Since the worker was the one who found it. They should have the right to it.”
“This could be from the home of someone who died. Often contractors are hired to clean out the home, so they could have been the ones who threw it away.”
“I think that’s probably mine.”
“How much do you want to bet that there was really more than five million there?”
“I’m always amazed at how often these large amounts of cash pop up in strange places.”

In the event the police investigation runs into a dead end, it would seem that the money is ultimately the property of Ostu City Northern Clean Center. However, given that the money might have been lost forever had it not been for the keen eye of the worker, they ought to get at least a cut, in principle. In cases where a government worker cost their workplace money through negligence, they’re forced to pay a part or sometimes even all of the lost amount. It seems that for the sake of fairness, this door should swing both ways with regards to windfalls too.

If not, then that worker is always welcome to join me as I hit the streets of rage and punch up a bunch of oil drums in search of a nice dinner roast.

Source: MBS News, Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
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