CRIME IN JAPAN

Japan’s Great ¥300 Million Robbery

No guns, no explosives, no injuries, no suspects

Edward Thomas
ILLUMINATION
Published in
8 min readMay 19, 2024

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Pile of Japanese 10,000-yen notes
Image by Edward Thomas using Canva

Author’s Note
This is a rewrite of a two-part article that was originally published on Medium in May 2022.

INTRODUCTION

On December 10, 1968, a lone man hijacked a car and stole the cash bonus payments it was transporting from a West Tokyo bank to a major Japanese electronics manufacturer.

More of a con than a traditional robbery, the heist was pulled off without guns, explosives, violence, or property damage.

The thief got away with around 300 million yen ($817,520 at 1968 exchange rates), which is equivalent to ¥1.1 billion ($7.3 million) in today’s money and was never caught.

As much as the authorities are loath to admit it even today, the Great ¥300 million Robbery may have been a perfect crime.

THE SETUP

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6, 1968

The general manager of the Kokubunji Branch of the Japan Trust Bank (now Mitsubishi UFJ Trust Bank) in west Tokyo was going through his mail when he came across a letter that sent a chill down his spine. Some of the words were written by hand, while others appeared to…

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Edward Thomas
ILLUMINATION

Chicago | Japan since 1969 | Japanese>English translator, editor | Teaches English at Japanese University. | Buy me a ko-fi @ ko-fi.com/edwardthomas