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Japan: New Lost Goods Law in Effect

(Jan. 2, 2008) An American university professor dropped mobile phones and wallets containing cash in Tokyo and New York. The return rate in Japan was higher. Because lost items have piled up at lost property centers and the cost of management of lost property is rising, the Diet passed a new Lost Goods Law (Law No. 73 of 2006) to replace the old Lost Goods Law (Law No. 87 of 1899). The new Law, effective on December 10, 2007, reduced from six months to three the maximum length of time that lost property must be kept in official storage places. The police are now allowed to sell low-value items, such as umbrellas, to recoup the cost of storing them. To make it easier for owners of lost items to find them, the National Police Agency set up an online database. It allows people to search for their property without visiting many police stations and lost property offices. (Richard Lloyd Parry, Has Anyone Lost £66m and an Umbrella?, TIMES ONLINE, Mar. 9, 2006, available at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,25689-2076821,00.html; Kaisei ishitsubutsu hō ni tsuite [Regarding the amended Lost Goods Law], National Police Agency Web site (last visited Dec. 28, 2007).)