Japan’s 126 million residents lose a vast number of personal items every year. But a remarkably high percentage of them are returned to their rightful owners. As a recent BBC story reported, 83 percent of cellphones lost in Tokyo, for example, are eventually retrieved.
A finely tuned lost-and-found system, however, cannot exist on infrastructure alone. Fostering a culture that emphasizes returning lost property is also needed, and in Japan, it is a lesson that begins at a young age.
In a now-viral Twitter post, a woman named Keiko recounted how her young son found a 50-yen coin in a park in Japan’s Hokuriku region. He insisted on turning in the money—worth less than 50 U.S. cents—at a nearby koban.
The Japanese dedication to this principle is remarkable.