Cash-strapped city governments in Japan are searching through the ashes of cremated residents to extract precious metals, pocketing the proceeds from the recycled gold and silver, it has emerged.
The city of Nagoya alone has reportedly collected 12 kg of gold, silver, platinum and palladium in 2007 from teeth and bones, worth more than Y10 million (£77,000).
The practice has been uncovered by the Asahi newspaper, which claims relatives of the dead are unaware of their loved ones' remains are being "mined" for reuseable materials.
"What happens to the bodies after cremation varies from place to place, but in general it is left up to the individual crematorium," said Fumio Nakajima, a spokesman for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
"The ashes and most of the bones are placed in the urn and given to the family, although some bones are too big and it is then up to the cremator
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