Japan unveils new banknotes ahead of Reiwa Imperial Era

New designs have been unveiled for Japanese currency, but will not begin circulating until 2024

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Image from the Japan Ministry of Finance

Image from the Japan Ministry of Finance

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Shortly after Japan announced the title of its new imperial era as “Reiwa” (令和), the Bank of Japan has unveiled three new currency notes to mark the occasion with three important historical figures who lived at the turn of the 20th Century.

Ahead of the ascension ceremony of Emperor-in-waiting Naruhito (徳仁), which is planned for May 1, Japan’s Finance Minister, Aso Taro (麻生太郎), on April 9 announced the introduction of new banknote designs to mark the occasion.

The 1,000 Yen, 5,000 Yen, and 10,000 Yen bank notes, to be issued for public circulation in 2024, will display images of the historical figures of Kitasato Shibasaburo (北里柴三郎), Tsuda Umeko (津田梅子), and Shibusawa Eiichi (渋沢栄一), respectively.

The last time Japan updated its currency notes was in 2004.

Kitasato (1853-1931) was a doctor who was born in Kyushu’s Higo Province (modern Kumamoto Prefecture). He studied in Germany and made important contributions to Japan’s medical advancement in the modern era.

He established the Institute for Study of Infectious Diseases, and was the first dean of medicine at Keio University, as well as the first president of the Japan Medical Association. His image on the JPY1,000 bill will replace that of Noguchi Hideyo (野口英世), who was also a bacteriologist.


Kitasato Shibasaburo (Wikimedia Commons photo)

Tsuda (1864-1929) will be the second woman to be featured on a Japanese banknote, and her image will replace that of Higuchi Ichiyo (樋口一葉) on the JPY5,000 bill.

Tsuda, born in what is the modern neighborhood of Shinjuku, Tokyo, was an important pioneer in advancing women’s education during the Meiji era, and she was also an influential Christian and proponent of the religion in Japan.


Tsuda Umeko (Wikimedia Commons Photo)

Shibusawa (1840-1931) was a Japanese scholar of the late Tokugawa Shogunate who opposed foreign influence in the country, but who would go on to serve Shogun Akitake as a delegate to the foreign courts of Europe. He returned from several trips abroad and became a major proponent for the industrialization of Japan before and during the Meiji era.


Shibusawa Eiichi (Wikimedia Commons photo)

Known as the “father of Japanese capitalism,” Shibusawa, from modern Saitama Prefecture, established the first modern bank in Japan, as well as one of the country’s first joint-stock companies, among hundreds of other business ventures. His image on the JPY10,000 note will replace the image of the famous Japanese scholar, Fukuzawa Yukichi (福澤諭吉), who is regarded one of the founders of modern Japan. Fukuzawa’s image has been on the JPY10,000 banknote since 1984.

All three of the historical figures were born before the Meiji era (1868–1912) of Japanese history, and all three lived through the Taisho Imperial era (1912–1926), and all passed away in the first years of the Showa era (1926–1989).

In addition to the new designs, the new banknotes also feature several new anti-counterfeiting security features, reports Liberty Times.


Emperor Akihito, left, and crowned successor, Prince Naruhito, right (Associated Press Photo)