People Are Awesome: Japanese Citizens Return $78 Million in Cash Lost During Quake

While their nation drowned, Japanese citizens found it in themselves to honor and respect their neighbors and countrymen.

Japan is known as a society built on respect for others' things. In the days immediately following the country's devastating earthquake and tsunami in March, a Slate article about why the Japanese don't loot noted the strict rules of order that stabilize the island nation: "[I]f you find an umbrella and turn it in to the cops, you get a finder's fee of 5 to 20 percent of its value if the owner picks it up," it said. "If they don't pick it up within six months, the finder gets to keep the umbrella."

These types of traditional official incentives bound the country together during the worst of circumstances. And today we can quantify just how orderly Japan was in time of crisis: According to official police estimates, Japanese citizens have turned in approximately $78 million in cash and valuables found amid the rubble since the earthquake hit five months ago. Found wallets alone contained almost $48 million in cash, while the other $30 million was retrieved from safes washed away by the waves.

It's been difficult to find the silver lining in a tragedy that took more than 18,000 lives, but the humanity and decency shown by Japanese citizens in the wake of the horror may be it.

photo via (cc) Flickr user ehnmark