Japan began printing new bank notes Tuesday that incorporate improved measures to combat counterfeiters, marking the first currency replacement in almost two decades.

“I hope this new issue will bring a breath of fresh air to the Japanese economy,” Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa said at a ceremony to mark the printing of the first run of new 10,000 yen bills.

The new issue is expected to pump between 400 billion yen and 700 billion yen into the economy by necessitating such measures as the replacement of automated teller machines, Shiokawa said.

The government will start printing new 1,000 yen bills in October, followed by 5,000 yen bills in December. All three kinds of notes will be circulated beginning next July. The Finance Ministry will announce the official date later, ministry officials said.

The new 5,000 yen bill will carry a portrait of Ichiyo Higuchi (1872-1896), a female novelist and poet of the Meiji Era. The new 1,000 yen bill will feature microbiologist Hideyo Noguchi (1876-1928), who dedicated his life to researching infectious diseases, including yellow fever.

The new 10,000 yen bill will continue to bear the portrait of Fukuzawa Yukichi.

The 2,000 yen bill, first issued in July 2000, will not be affected.

The new bills will feature six kinds of anticounterfeit technology, including one kind originally used in the printing of the 2,000 yen bill.

The bills will also feature holograms and advanced bar coding.

The government plans to print a total of more than 3 billion new bank notes by July, ministry officials said.

The 10,000 yen, 5,000 yen and 1,000 yen bank notes currently in circulation were first issued in November 1984.

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