The government on Tuesday announced a redesign for ¥10,000, ¥5,000 and ¥1,000 bank notes, adding new technology to prevent counterfeits.
The new designs will be introduced in the first half of fiscal 2024, Finance Minister Taro Aso said.
The new ¥10,000 bill will feature Eiichi Shibusawa (1840-1931), a banker and business leader dubbed “the father of Japanese capitalism.” Shibusawa played a key role in modernizing the Japanese economy, Aso said. The back side of the bill will feature an illustration of the Marunouchi side of Tokyo Station.
The ¥5,000 bill will feature Umeko Tsuda (1864-1929), the founder of Tsuda University in Tokyo, who studied in the U.S. and became a pioneer in the education of Japanese women in early 20th century. The back side will feature an illustration of wisteria flowers.
The ¥1,000 bill will feature Shibasaburo Kitasato (1853-1931), a bacteriologist who helped build the foundation for modern medical science in Japan. The opposite side will feature “The Great Wave off Kanagawa,” the famous woodblock print by ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai.
A portrait on the new bills will be rendered as a 3D hologram, which the Finance Ministry said is a world first for currency.
Aso said the government will not redesign the ¥2,000 bill because the number of bills in circulation “is extremely small.”
The announcement follows Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga’s April 1 announcement that the new Imperial era, set to begin on May 1 when Crown Prince Naruhito ascends to the Chrysanthemum Throne, will be called Reiwa. Emperor Akihito is set to abdicate on April 30.
Some government officials welcomed the timing of the announcement to coincide with the change in era, but Aso told a news conference that the era change was not the main factor. Japan changes the designs of the three bills to prevent counterfeiting about every 20 years, Aso said.
“We didn’t pay much attention to the announcement of the era name,” Aso said.
The last time Japan introduced new bill designs was 2004, a change announced in 2002.
In the first part of fiscal 2021, the ministry will also introduce a new ¥500 coin with the same design but using new materials.
According to the Finance Ministry, about 9.97 billion ¥10,000 bank notes were in circulation in fiscal 2018, along with 660 million ¥5,000 bills, 100 million ¥2,000 bills and 4.2 billion ¥1,000 bills.
Older bills will remain valid, but the ministry expects that most will be replaced in the three to four years after 2024, officials said.
The current ¥10,000 bill features Yukichi Fukuzawa (1835-1901), an intellectual leader of the Meiji Era who founded Keio University in Tokyo. Fukuzawa was featured on the ¥10,000 bill introduced in 1984 and remained the face of the bill in the 2004 redesign, meaning the upcoming change will be the bill’s first in 40 years.
On the front side of the current ¥5,000 bill is writer and poet Ichiyo Higuchi (1872-1896), and the current ¥1,000 bill features medical scientist Hideyo Noguchi (1876-1928).
In 1984, the government decided not to feature any politicians or military leaders on bank notes to maintain political neutrality. Figures for the main portraits are chosen from among cultural figures of the Meiji Era or later.