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The E-Sylum:  Volume 11, Number 12, March 23, 2008, Article 19

JAPANESE CASH HOARD UNCOVERED

In Japan, cash is truly king. Credit cards are regarded with
suspicion; fat wallets are the norm. Banknotes are used even
for big transactions. Yet even the Japanese were taken aback
by this week's announcement of a massive bust by the tax
authorities. Investigators arrested two sisters in the city
of Osaka on charges of evading taxes by hoarding the equivalent
of $56.4 million in cash.

Hatsue Shimizu, 64, and Yoshiko Ishii, 55, were said to have
hidden the money away in Shimizu's garage. Last fall, when
tax inspectors first raided the property, they were stunned
to find stacks of cardboard boxes (50 in all) stuffed with
yen banknotes. The stash is said to have weighed in at around
1,300 pounds. Many of the wads of bills still had the original
bank bands around them; some were moldy with age. It took
the tax bureau days to count out all of the money.

Prohibitive inheritance-tax rates are certainly the main reason,
but other factors might be at fault as well. In the late 1990s,
widespread fears about bank stability thanks to a nationwide
financial crisis triggered a rush to convert assets to tansu
yokin ("drawer deposits").

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  Wayne Homren, Editor

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