In places where figures made their mark, surprise and joy greet portraits on Japan's new bank notes


People with a historical connection to the new faces chosen for redesigned Japanese bank notes have expressed surprise and joy after the government announced the planned revamp on Tuesday.

The new ¥10,000 bill will feature a portrait of industrialist Eiichi Shibusawa, while a picture of Umeko Tsuda, a famed educator for women, will be on the new ¥5,000 bill, according to the Finance Ministry. The new ¥1,000 bill will have an image of bacteriologist Shibasaburo Kitasato. The redesigned notes will be circulated from the first half of fiscal 2024.

The city of Fukaya in Saitama Prefecture, the birthplace of Shibusawa, updated its website and posted details of the new bank note designs announced by the ministry.

The website noted that some of the bricks used for Tokyo Station’s Marunouchi district side building, which will be printed on the reverse of the new ¥10,000 bill, were made by a company established by Shibusawa.

“Shibusawa was in Fukaya until the age of 23, and he continued to visit local festivals after he left the prefecture,” said Kazumi Kokubo, 73, who works as a volunteer in Fukaya. “I want many people to know about his achievements and visit Fukaya,” Kokubo said.

Students at Tsuda University, a women’s university in Tokyo that was formerly Joshi Eigaku Juku, established by Tsuda in 1900, were also thrilled by the news.

“I was surprised to know that the founder of the university I just entered will be featured on the new ¥5,000 bill,” said a first-year student at the school’s Department of English.

“It’s a great university, and I hope the news will raise awareness about the school among many people,” she said.

A second-year student in the same department also expressed joy, noting that even there being “changes in the designs of bank notes I’ve been used to since I was born are surprising.”

A third-year student at the university’s Department of International and Cultural Studies said, “I think her efforts to promote education for women were recognized by the government.”

Kitasato was born in what is now the town of Oguni, Kumamoto Prefecture.

“I’m proud that a person who was born here will be featured on a bank note,” said Oguni Mayor Kosuke Kitazato, 50, who is a distant relative of Kitasato.

“This will be a good opportunity to spread knowledge about the achievements of Kitasato,” he said.

Referring to the fact that the current ¥1,000 bill features Hideyo Noguchi, also a bacteriologist, the mayor pointed out that Noguchi was a student at a research institute headed by Kitasato. “That’s quite a story,” Kitazato said.