On Oct 10, 2007, an 83-year-old company owner in Saga Prefecture reported to police that 360 million yen, which he had buried in his yard, had disappeared. The money was never recovered and the man passed away last December. The police revealed details of the case on Jan 28.
“There were lots of police vehicles and investigators at that time. I was also interviewed by police,” said a neighbor. “Police said they were investigating a case of theft, but I was surprised to hear what it was all about and the amount of money involved."
According to police, the old man had saved the money during a 40-year span, always putting it in a container which he buried in his backyard garden. It was in October, 2007, when he added to his cache for the last time. The money was dug up sometime prior to Oct 10, police said.
Neighbors said they had never seen the man burying anything in his garden and never realized he had so much money. “He drove an ordinary Japanese car, didn't drink or gamble, as far as I know," said one. "His lifestyle seemed simple.”
One of the man's relatives told Shukan Post that they had drifted apart. "I hadn't seen him for a long time and didn't know anything about his financial condition. There were not many people at his funeral. I think he wanted to keep his money with him all the time. But I still doubt if he really buried that much money in the backyard.”
The man did have a lot of money-related troubles, according to those who knew him. He used to run a cleaning company and one of his employees recalls, “He often said we would have to take a pay cut to cover his losses. But it was a lie. He paid us 7,000 yen a day, while he was earning millions of yen. He never increased wages and even fired employees just before bonus payday. There was always a high turnover of staff.”
Police believe that if the money really was stolen, then the thief must be someone fully aware of the man's finances. They have investigated neighbors, business contacts and even tax officers.
However, some say the deceased man's his behavior is too irrational for a money-driven guy. An investigator says, “There was no light and security camera in the backyard. He said he buried the money there in case of a fire in the house. But there are safer places than the backyard. He could have used a safety deposit box at a bank. I think he had some secret reason for hoarding his money like that. Maybe he had tax issues.”
In any case, somebody got 360 million yen richer -- in tax-free money. (Translated by Taro Fujimoto)© Japan Today