Photo/IllutrationAbandoned suitcases await scrapping at a facility in Kansai International Airport. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

IZUMISANO, Osaka Prefecture--Kansai International Airport will offer ballpoint pens, notebooks and other small souvenirs to travelers who turn in their unwanted suitcases instead of simply dumping them around the facility.

The free service will start on Aug. 6 with the aim of reducing the mountains of abandoned suitcases that have led to problems concerning space and security at the airport, according to Kansai Airports, the airport operator.

Many of the increasing number of foreign tourists are buying new suitcases in Japan and discarding their old ones near trash cans and other areas at the airport. Sometimes, more than 10 suitcases have been found on a single day, the airport said.

The problem drew attention about a year ago.

Under the new service, passengers agree to relinquish ownership of their old suitcases at baggage-check counters on the departure floor for international flights. The airport will gain possession of the suitcases and resell them through dealers.

Under the current system, discarded luggage that is not significantly damaged is treated as lost property, according to the airport.

After holding the suitcases for several days, the airport hands them over to the Kansai Airport Police Station.

The necessary procedures require a lot of time and effort. And the airport is running out of space to store the abandoned suitcases.

Furthermore, all discarded suitcases must be checked for hazardous items.

The airport will set up multilingual posters to spread word of the new service.