The yen 円 (sign: ¥; code: JPY) is the currency of Japan. It is the third most-traded currency in the foreign exchange market after United States dollar and the euro. It is also widely used as a reserve currency after the U.S. dollar, the euro and the pound sterling. As is common when counting in East Asia, large quantities of yen are often counted in multiples of 10,000 (man, 万) in the same way as values in Western countries are often quoted in thousands.
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The issuance of the yen banknotes began in 1872, two years after the currency was introduced. Throughout its history, the denominations have ranged from 10 yen to 10,000 yen.
Before and during World War II, various bodies issued banknotes in yen, such as the Ministry of Finance and the Imperial Japanese National Bank. The Allied forces also issued some notes shortly after the war. Since then, the Bank of Japan has been the exclusive note issuing authority. The bank has issued five series after World War II. Series E, the current series, consists of ¥1000, ¥2000, ¥5000, and ¥10,000.
Before World War II
In 1872, the Ministry of Finance introduced notes in denominations between 10 sen and 100 yen. "Imperial Japanese Paper Currency" followed in 1873 in denominations of 1 yen up to 20 yen. "Imperial Japanese Paper Money" was issued between 1881 and 1883 in denominations between 20 sen and 10 yen.
In 1877 and 1878, the Imperial Japanese National Bank issued 1 and 5 yen notes. In 1885, the Bank of Japan began issuing notes, in denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 100 yen. 20 yen notes were added in 1917, followed by 200 yen in 1927 and 1000 yen in 1945.
Between 1917 and 1922, the government issued 10, 20 and 50 sen notes. 50 sen notes were reintroduced in 1938. In 1944, 5 and 10 sen notes were introduced by the Bank of Japan.
Allied forces notes
The Allies issued notes in denominations of 10 and 50 sen, 1, 5, 10, 20, 100 and 1,000 yen between 1945 and 1951, during which time the Bank of Japan also issued notes. Banknotes below 1 yen became invalid on December 31, 1953 by the same legislation mentioned above. Australia actually made notes for the occupation as well.
By the early 1950s, notes below 50 yen had been replaced by coins, followed by those for 50 and 100 yen in the late 1950s. In 1957 and 1958, 5000 and 10,000 yen notes were introduced. The 500 yen notes were replaced after 1982.
Modern Day Banknotes
The current issue was launched in the year 2000. The 2,000 yen note was first issued on July 19, 2000 to commemorate the 26th G8 summit in Okinawa and the millennium year as well. Pictured on the front of the note is Shureimon, a famous gate in Naha, Okinawa near the site of the summit. The other side features a scene from the The Tale of Genji and the author Murasaki Shikibu on the lower right corner. The motif of the scene was taken from the 12th century illuminated handscrolls of the novel kept at the Tokugawa Art Museum in Nagoya.
These notes are rare in the market, but at banks they are readily available. Many Japanese consider the 2,000 yen note a novelty as it is the only Japanese denomination in the factor of 2. To promote the circulation of the notes, some companies had started paying wages in them. The series D is the first to display the EURion constellation.