Bankbook Finder Claims 15% of Owner’s Bank Account


A man who found and reported a lost bankbook claimed 15% of the legitimate owner’s $200,000 bank balance as a finder’s reward, and courts agreed the owner must pay.

The case began when a Niigata prefecture man found a lost bag containing bankbooks, payslips and a legal seal, with the books belonging to an account with an apparent balance of ¥17,000,000.

He immediately reported the find to police, and the lost items were returned the same day to their owner.

Here things began to go awry; the owner of the bankbooks offered not one yen in reward money for the prompt return of the bag, even when asked by the finder – in Japan the “grateful” owner of a lost item is expected to offer a reward commensurate with the value of the lost item or of at least a respectable amount.

The finder soon filed a court case demanding 15% of the bank account’s balance as a reward, based on the owner not fulfilling his legal obligations to provide a reward under the Lost Articles Law.

Japanese law treats the appropriation of lost articles by finders as theft; the legally correct action is to report the incident to police, who will then retain the article for 3 months whilst searching for the owner.

If nobody claims the article it normally becomes property of the finder, except where items containing personal information are involved.

With a generally law-abiding populace, the reporting of lost property is common – in 2009 some 17 million articles were reported to police, 6 million of which were returned to their owners, and 7 million to finders. 450,000 unclaimed articles were withheld based on personal information being present.

This included ¥14,200,000,000 in cash, ¥9,700,000,000 of which was returned to the original owners, and ¥3,800,000,000 to finders.

However, if the article is claimed by the original owner, the law requires the owner to pay the finder a reward, from 5-20% of the object’s value. Failure to do so can result in civil courts forcing a payment if legal action is taken by the finder.

This is a simple matter where cash is involved, but a complex legal issue where many other items are concerned, as their “market value” must be determined.

Mangaka Takashi Tajima, author of several legal manga and a lawyer himself, explains:

“From the perspective of the side losing a bankbook or similar, its effectively a worthless scrap of paper as once reported to a bank it can no longer be used at all, meaning a small reward is justified at best, but the finder is likely likening it to actual cash as if he was criminally inclined he could quickly take it to the bank and make a withdrawal before it was cancelled.”

There have in fact been several high profile cases around just this issue.

In one case in 1983, a bank employee managed to lose a cheque for ¥7,800,000,000. Courts then valued the actual cheque at 2% of its face value, and then ordered the bank to pay a 5% reward to the finder, totalling ¥8,750,000.

In 1991, a lost promissory note was valued at from a half to a third of its face value, resulting in a ¥850,000 payment to the finder being ordered .

Such cases also raise the intriguing possibility that having property returned could actually be far more damaging than losing it in the first place, and more profitable (and legal) for the “honest” finder.

Indeed, it might be less risky for those losing such articles to not claim them at all, since once cancelled they lose all value, and any attempt to use them constitutes a serious crime for which no reward need be paid and liability is generally limited.

These cases are at any rate the exception rather than the rule, a court official says: “Usually these are resolved with a ‘thank you’ payment of 50-100,000. It seems in this case the finder became upset however…”

The case finally concluded with the owner demonstrating that the account in fact only held ¥8,000,000, with the court suggesting a minimal 5% payment – both sides finally agreed on a compromise ¥300,000 “reward.”

It is not clear just what the moral of all this for both finders and losers is.

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    Comment by Anonymous
    14:25 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    I had my briefcase pulled out of my hand while trying to exit an insanely crowded train in Japan. I called the Lost and Found and they told me to come back the next day to find the item and ID it. Fortunately it was there and the train companies don't charge 10%. However, the warehouse where they kept lost items was mind-boggling. By law they have to keep lost items for a year. And entire corner of the place was filled floor to (4m--I asked) ceiling with umbrellas. The guy said they went back three layers deep, too. There must have been tens of thousands.
    There were huge piles of amazing stuff. Computer CRTs in unopened boxes, stacks of word processors (simple laptops, this was a quite a few years ago). My favorite by far was a corner filled with canes and crutches. I mean...WTF? How do you forget a goddamn crutch?
    I've heard that over the last few years a lot less stuff is being turned in. Sadly, Japan is losing its reputation for almost universal honesty.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:07 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Hmm, I owe 15% of my bank account? My account is overdrawn $1,000. You now owe me $150 for finding my bank book. Congratulations.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:55 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    hahahaaaaaaa its genius

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:30 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)


    Avatar of Onsokumaru
    Comment by Onsokumaru
    14:01 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I saw the pic and thought it was a "Kaiji season 2 announced" article.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:17 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Me too! Goddamn it.

    Comment by Anonymous
    Avatar of Shippoyasha
    Comment by Shippoyasha
    15:30 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I don't think even Kaiji would be THIS ruthless. He'd crumple from the moral dilemma and scream at the heavens. XD

    Avatar of Callysto
    Comment by Callysto
    11:33 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Sounds fair enough. If you lose it and someone is gracious enough to return instead of keeping it...they more than deserve a little something for their troubles.

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:43 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    They should instead call it the "Lost Objects Law" or LOL.

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:05 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Smart man. I applaud the plaintiff for taking advantage of this loophole.

    Avatar of Barbarian of Gor
    Comment by Barbarian of Gor
    13:12 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    It's a reasonable law. Otherwise, the full temptation would be on theft, technicality of a banker's note aside.

    If you find something of value but instead of keeping it (stealing, by default) yourself you make an attempt (at least via the authorities) to find the owner, you are doing that person a service. A reward of some of that value is expected.

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:31 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Expected... perhaps, but required by law? No.

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:00 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    It sounds like a good law in theory, but here we have an example that it's flawed.

    If I do losing something in Japan, I just hope the finder isn't a greedy bastard otherwise I'm screwed.
    Me personally, I'll will give something in return to a finder for his kindness in returning my stuff. Treat him to lunch, gift card and maybe some cash. : P

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:54 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Errr isn't that the same thing as the 5-20% rule?
    Someone finds your mobile phone ($300) and you treat him to lunch ($10-$30).

    Avatar of Sylar
    Comment by Sylar
    16:13 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    So you better hope Luffy, Hei, Goku or Index don't find your phone. I have a feeling the lunch is gonna cost a lot more than $30.

    Comment by Anonymous
    16:47 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Isn't it easier to pay him back in %15 of the pages out of his book?

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:54 24/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    He's legally obligated to give a reward... THAT'S NOT HOW IT WORKS!!! If a reward is given to you because of legal obligation it's not a reward.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:55 24/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Really none of them look good here

    It's greedy to demand money to return a persons property.

    and it's bad manners not to offer any compensation for a good deed.

    It doesn't have to be money, could be some kind of favor like some free meals etc.

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:55 24/11/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

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    Comment by Anonymous
    04:14 25/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    And here I thought Japanese people returned lost items because they were honest, not because they were expecting a reward afterwards.

    One more myth dispelled!

    Avatar of mtallmen_184
    Comment by mtallmen_184
    03:16 25/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I prefer a 100% finders reward.

    Avatar of Seravy
    Comment by Seravy
    21:03 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Give the entire bankbook to the finder at the court and ask your bank for a new one the day before. He can't use yours anyway, as that would be against the law, and if you got a new one, it isn't even valid anymore. And the finder got 100% of the found item as a reward, case closed.

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:56 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Moral??? There is none. If it's immoral then there is one. GREED!

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:55 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    What a backward country.
    In the rest of the first world people have accounts independent of their cards (which only represent access) and can just go to their money institute to get a new one and have the old one blocked..

    Avatar of DFC
    Comment by DFC
    21:16 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Loser loses.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:36 24/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    It's a bad law but let's keep in mind the owner was a cheap fuck who wouldn't give the guy 5% or even a lesser token sum. Maybe he insulted him as well... who knows.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:38 24/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I mean, most of you seem to think this guy did wrong, but despite the fact that the service he provided was worth far less than 15% he was in fact legally entitled to 5% regardless of what you think about the law.

    The lawbreaker here was the owner. The finder didn't get uppity about a bigger sum until he got no reward at all.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:40 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    No reward? At least give me some candy or a dinner and a movie.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:47 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Note to self steal someone belongings and report it stolen. get off Scot free and get paid for it.

    Avatar of fxc2
    Comment by fxc2
    08:48 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I wouldn't give shit for sure.

    Comment by Pyrolight
    08:48 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    That is the most messed up law I have seen in awhile, and lets face it, if you spend anytime on this site that is saying something.

    Avatar of g0rth0r
    Comment by g0rth0r
    08:47 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Fuck yeah, Kaiji !

    Comment by H-Ero
    08:32 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Note to self: Never lose anything in Japan.

    Avatar of Philosopher
    Comment by Philosopher
    08:44 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Fixed: Never lose anything anywhere like a total dumbass.

    Avatar of Poisoned Cookie
    Comment by Poisoned Cookie
    08:35 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    No kidding! I'd have to calculate my losses before even considering trying to retrieve it.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:01 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Would you prefer to lose your stuff in other countries, where it's as good as gone? If someone were to actually return it, that person immediately gets praised in the papers for his honesty. Now that's just screwed up, like saying it takes a truly special person to return lost items.

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:33 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Nor help little girls... nor look at them straight to the eyes... or sneeze... know what, don't go to Japan after all.

    Avatar of izu taisa
    Comment by izu taisa
    08:06 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    wtf.the owner should just report the loss to the bank and they will cancel the book and make a new one.or in japan it does not have the card loss policy apply to the book?

    Avatar of viewtifu1
    Comment by viewtifu1
    08:11 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    apparently not lol! might as well save ur money in ur socks

    Avatar of izu taisa
    Comment by izu taisa
    09:03 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    wtf.maybe this is y my grandparent moved into developing has better n secure banking protection!

    Avatar of Miroku74
    Comment by Miroku74
    07:55 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Holy Fuck... >_<

    Not a drop of human kindness in this world lately, it seems. :(

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:33 24/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    That finder is such an assbag. You return things in good faith, not return it and expect a wad of cash. May as well just steal that shit if he wanted money that badly.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:32 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    If one random article on sankaku is enough to make you believe so, there's seriously something wrong with you.

    Avatar of i like pandas
    Comment by i like pandas
    08:00 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Unfortunately, human kindness does not put food nor, more importantly, kawaii anime figures on one's table.

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:44 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Seems like a trend in Japan, I'm sorry but some of the most outrageous news comes from Japan. Specifically their legal system. That bankbook, had zero value, if it was used it would be criminal. An act of a possible crime can NOT give something value, that's the opposite of value. To value a check book at the value of which is in the bank is ludicrous because the banks whole purpose is to safe guard your money, and to prevent people from taking the money who are not authorized.

    Avatar of MoeMoeKyunBeam
    Comment by MoeMoeKyunBeam
    08:36 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    you set places on the table for your figures too?!!

    Avatar of Darkrockslizer
    Comment by Darkrockslizer
    08:45 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    And what if you can't afford the table!?

    Avatar of BlaqCat
    Comment by BlaqCat
    10:04 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Wait wait. But what if you "find" someone's car instead of a table? If you "find" someones lost benz you stand to make out quite well...then you'll have your table, and money to put food onto it (for you and your figures)

    Avatar of CoreFlood
    Comment by CoreFlood
    10:40 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    i wonder if the saying "it's nothing personal, it's just business" would apply here ._.

    on the topic of the table, food for you and your figurines... you're also forgetting air conditioning, air filtration system, wardrobe and other necessities... shame on you

    Avatar of Captain Obvious
    Comment by Captain Obvious
    09:31 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    "And what if you can't afford the table!?"

    Then you steal a table and return it to the police in hope of a reward. Steal till you get what you want. Remember if you get caught and thrown in jail there will be butt secks and cock-meat sandwiches ready to order. Then you'll never go hungry or need a table and cell mates can be cool figures.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:26 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    don't forget the miniature plates and utensils

    Avatar of Miroku74
    Comment by Miroku74
    08:27 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    It can if enough people cared enough.... but there aren't enough people who really *do* care.

    About human kindness putting food on the table, that is.

    Still, 15% Finder's Fee is far better than the 100% Finder's Fee someone pulled on me when I lost my wallet in the back of a cab years and years ago. Learned an important lesson that day: Never leave foldable money in your wallet. And to date, I have not lost anymore month's rent since. An expensive lesson, but still one well-learned.

    Still doesn't excuse the mercenary attitude the fucking plaintiff pulled in this article's story though.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:37 24/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    We got a 10% of the value given to the finder as a norm. But I don't think you can do anything if they don't pay you.

    I believe I heard Touhou was created by one guy alone. And only because he felt like doing so.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:07 24/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I don't feel very sorry for the people who lost stuff and had to pay. I have never lost my wallet or keys or in fact anything else important that I can remember. Why? Because if it is important I don't leave it laying about. People who lose stuff have only themselves to blame.

    Avatar of LUMINCE
    Comment by LUMINCE
    08:12 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)


    It is only natural for humans.

    Avatar of Yoshii-kun
    Comment by Yoshii-kun
    13:33 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    A greed with no limits

    Avatar of Captain Obvious
    Comment by Captain Obvious
    09:21 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I'm laughing straight to the bank with this
    (Ha ha ha ha, ha, ha ha ha ha)

    Avatar of Captain Obvious
    Comment by Captain Obvious
    09:22 23/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    "Holy Fuck"

    Indeed, another fucking from the law.

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