Forgery-proof yen notes to usher in new era

Business | Bloomberg, Reuters, and Tereza Cai 10 Apr 2019

The Japan government has announced a redesign for the 10,000 yen, 5,000 yen and 1,000 yen banknotes, adding new technology to prevent counterfeits.

The Ministry of Finance said it plans to circulate new bill designs by the first half of the fiscal year starting April 2024, partly to guard against counterfeit notes.

The new banknotes come before the start of the new Imperial era, Reiwa, on May 1, when Crown Prince Naruhito ascends to the throne, and will feature new watermarks and 3D holograms.

Finance Minister Taro Aso revealed the possible design ideas for these new yen bills featuring historical figures, with Eiichi Shibusawa - an industrialist who helped found the Tokyo Stock Exchange in the late 19th century - chosen as the face of the new 10,000 yen bill. If the redesigns take place as scheduled, it would be the first face change on the 10,000 yen bill since 1984.

Umeko Tsuda, one of the first Japanese women to study abroad, was chosen for the new 5,000 yen note, and physician Shibasaburo Kitasato, who worked on finding a cure for tetanus, was chosen for the new 1,000 yen bill.

Aso commented that the notes are not intended to stimulate the economy, and that they are redesigned periodically. It would be the first aesthetic change of the country's currency notes in 20 years since 2004.

Aso told reporters that he had the final say on who would appear on the bills. Asked if he himself would like to appear on a bank note in the future, he said: "Absolutely not."

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