Lost property is returned at a surprising high rate in Japan. This includes misplaced money as well as objects. In fact, in 2003, over 2 billion yen (around $25 million) worth of cash was lost in Tokyo alone and, according to police statistics, over 90 percent was returned to its proper owner. The reason for this high rate of return lies not only in the fact that wallets have easily identifiable owners, but also in the legal framework Japan has established regarding lost and found objects.
If you find a lost object in Japan, you are expected to turn that object into the local police station. If you decide to keep the lost object for yourself instead, you can be punished under the Japanese law against Embezzlement of Lost Property which carries a punishment of imprisonment for less than one year and a fine of up to 100,000 yen.
On the other hand, if you turn in the object to a police station, and the owner claims it, you are entitled to receive compensation from the owner for your effort. Or, if the owner does not claim the lost object within three months, the police will give the object back to you and you will be allowed to keep the object legally.
If you have any questions about law in Japan, please contact our office for a legal consultation.