Thursday, August 18, 2011

Japanese Wallets

I remember reading somewhere that the reason Japanese suffered such privation in the Tokugawa was their high standards of cleanliness and public health.  Slovenly Europeans enjoyed (ahem) high levels of dirt-related disease (think cholera) and and so high levels of infant mortality, leaving the clean and lean Japanese with more survivors to feed.

People are contradictory but Japan has long struck me as one of the most paradoxical countries in the world.  How could a country with a shiftless and irresponsible government (but there is plenty of competition) enjoy such high levels of personal integrity and social solidarity?  Don't know, of course, but it does mean I am not particularly surprised by this story, as recounted  by Aaron Cohen over at Kottke:

This is a nice story for the afternoon. During the cleanup process following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, citizens have turned in tons of wallets containing $48 million. 5,700 safes washed out to sea in the tsunami have been recovered containing another $30 million. Most of this has been returned to the owners. This is the type of story that makes me say, "Please don't be fake, please don't be fake," as I click submit.
He's right to be skeptical; always be skeptical.  But I'm more inclined to believe this one than most.

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