Japan issues first new banknotes in 20 years

Redesigned bills pay tribute to Japanese capitalism, women’s equality and scientific innovation.

Japan has issued its first new banknotes since 2004 [Eugene Hoshiko/AP]

Japan has issued its first new banknotes in two decades, with the redesigned bills featuring 3D holograms intended to thwart counterfeiters.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday said the redesigned 10,000 yen, 5,000 yen and 1,000 yen bills paid tribute to Japanese capitalism, women’s equality and scientific innovation.

“I hope the people will like the new bills, and they will help energise the Japanese economy,” Kishida told reporters at the Bank of Japan.

The bills feature holograms of historical figures whose orientation changes depending on the angle they are viewed at, which Japanese authorities say is a world first.

The 10,000 yen banknote features the image of Eiichi Shibusawa, an industrialist and government official credited with shepherding Japan’s economic modernisation during the Meiji era.

The 5,000 yen bill depicts Umeko Tsuda, a pioneer in women’s education who founded the forerunner to Tokyo’s Tsuda University.

The 1,000 yen note portrays Shibasaburo Kitasato, a bacteriologist who helped develop a method to prevent tetanus and diphtheria.

Japan, which is known for its heavy reliance on cash, unveiled the redesigned bills in 2019, giving consumers and businesses five years to prepare.

Bills that are already in circulation will continue to be accepted as valid currency.

Bank of Japan Governor Kazuo Ueda said that cash would continue to be important despite the country’s shift towards digital payments, which has lagged developed peers.

“Cash is a secure means of payment that can be used by anyone, anywhere, and at any time, and it will continue to play a significant role,” Ueda said.

The government has said it expects to print about 7.5 billion new banknotes by March of next year.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies