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Mystery figure sends Ehime 'donation' of 100 million yen in cash

MATSUYAMA -- The Ehime Prefectural Government disclosed on Feb. 14 that it received an estimated 100 million yen in cash late last month from an unknown sender claiming the money was a "donation."

As the bills are severely deteriorated, the prefectural government is set to ask the Bank of Japan (BOJ) to verify and exchange them for new notes. It will consider using the cash for recovery efforts in areas devastated by the torrential rains that hit extensive areas of western Japan in July 2018.

Ehime Gov. Tokihiro Nakamura made the announcement at a regular press meeting on Feb. 14. According to the governor, a corrugated box addressed to "the governor of Ehime" was sent to the prefectural government headquarters via a parcel delivery service on the morning of Jan. 29. Inside the box were nearly 20 wads of 10,000-yen notes, which were stuck together apparently due to water absorption, and were severely damaged.

A letter attached to the cash bore a handwritten message expressing hope that the money would be of use for something, and asking officials to refrain from trying to make contact.

The prefectural government withheld the letter itself and other details from the press for the sake of identification confirmation in case the sender comes forward in the future. Prefectural officials have already reported the delivery to police and confirmed that no reports of theft or lost articles suggesting possible links to the bills had been filed. They also consulted with a legal adviser and judged that there would be no problem in dealing with the cash as a "donation."

In accordance with the Bank of Japan Act, banknotes that are not suitable for use due to contamination, damage or other reasons are exchangeable for new cash. The central bank exchanges unusable banknotes provided that the two sides of the banknote are maintained. The exchange value is determined according to the size of the original banknote remaining.

"Banknotes that are stuck together will be peeled off piece by piece before verification," said a public relations official at the BOJ.

(Japanese original by Aoi Hanazawa, Matsuyama Bureau)

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