The (sign: ¥; code: JPY) is the currency of Japan. It is the third most-traded currency in the foreign exchange market after the 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. While not a usage specific to currency, large quantities of yen are often counted in multiples of 10,000 (man, 万) in the same way as values in english speaking countries are often quoted in thousands.
The yen was introduced by the Meiji government in 1872 as a system resembling those in Europe. The yen replaced the complex monetary system of the Edo period, based on the mon. The New Currency Act of 1871 stipulated the adoption of the decimal accounting system of yen (1, 圓), sen (錢), and rin (厘), with the coins being round and cast as in the West. The yen was legally defined as 0.78 troy ounces (24.26 g) of pure silver, or 1.5 grams of pure gold. The same amount of silver is worth about 1181 modern yen, while the same amount of gold is worth about 4715 yen. The Act also moved Japan onto the gold standard. (The sen and the rin were eventually taken out of circulation at the end of 1953.)
Despite intervention, market pressures caused the yen to continue climbing in value, peaking temporarily at an average of ¥271 per US$1 in 1973 before the impact of the 1973 oil crisis was felt. The increased costs of imported oil caused the yen to depreciate to a range of ¥290 to ¥300 between 1974 and 1976. The re-emergence of trade surpluses drove the yen back up to ¥211 in 1978. This currency strengthening was again reversed by the second oil shock in 1979, with the yen dropping to ¥227 by 1980.
Coins were introduced in 1870. There were silver 5, 10, 20 and 50 sen and 1 yen, and gold 2, 5, 10 and 20 yen. Gold 1 yen were introduced in 1871, followed by copper 1 rin, ½, 1 and 2 sen in 1873.
Cupronickel 5 sen coins were introduced in 1889. In 1897, the silver 1 yen coin was demonetized and the sizes of the gold coins were reduced by 50%, with 5, 10 and 20 yen coins issued. In 1920, cupro-nickel 10 sen coins were introduced.
Production of silver coins ceased in 1938, after which a variety of base metals were used to produce 1, 5 and 10 sen coins during the Second World War. Clay 5 and 10 sen coins were produced in 1945 but not issued for circulation.
After the war, brass 50 sen, 1 and 5 yen were introduced between 1946 and 1948. In 1949, the current type of holed 5 yen was introduced, followed by bronze 10 yen (of the type still in circulation) in 1951.
Coins in denominations of less than 1 yen became invalid on December 31, 1953, following enforcement of the .
In 1955, the current type of aluminium 1 yen was introduced, along with unholed, nickel 50 yen. In 1957, silver 100 yen pieces were introduced. These were replaced in 1967 by the current, cupro-nickel type, along with the holed 50 yen coin. In 1982, the first 500 yen coins were introduced.
The date is on the reverse of all coins, and, in most cases, the name 日本国, Nihonkoku (Japan) and the value in kanji is on the obverse, except for the 5-yen where Nihonkoku is on the reverse.
500 yen coins are among the highest valued coins to be used regularly in the world (with values in the neighbourhood of US$4.86, €3.12, and £2.46). The United States' largest-valued commonly-used coin (25¢) is worth around 26 yen; the Eurozone's largest (€2) is worth ¥324, and the United Kingdom's largest (£2) is worth ¥407 (as of August 2008). The Swiss 5-franc coin is currently (as of August 2008) worth about ¥501, putting it just above the Japanese ¥500 coin. No doubt because of this high face value, the 500 yen has been a favourite target for counterfeiters. It was counterfeited to such an extent that in 2000 a new series of coins was issued with various security features. In spite of these changes, however, counterfeiting continues.
The 1 yen coin is made out of 100% aluminum.
On various occasions, commemorative coins are minted using gold and silver with various face values, up to 100,000 yen. Even though they can be used, they are treated as collectibles.
Instead of displaying the A.D. year of mintage like most nations' coins, yen coins instead display the year of the current emperor's reign. For example, a coin minted in 2006 would bear the date Heisei 18 (the 18th year of Emperor Akihito's reign).
|Currently circulating coins|
|Image||Value||Technical parameters||Description||Date of first minting|
|¥1||20 mm||1.2 mm||1 g||100% aluminium||Smooth||Young tree, state title, value||Value, year of minting||1955|
|¥5||22 mm||1.5 mm||3.75 g|| 60–70% copper|
|Smooth||Ear of Rice, gear, water, value||State title, year of minting||1949|
|¥10||23.5 mm||1.5 mm||4.5 g||95% copper|
|Milled||Hōōdō Temple, Byōdō-in, state title, value||Evergreen tree, value, year of minting||1951|
|¥50||21 mm||1.7 mm||4 g|| Cupronickel|
|Milled||Chrysanthemum, state title, value||Value, year of minting||1967|
|¥100||22.6 mm||1.7 mm||4.8 g|| Cupronickel|
|Milled||Cherry blossoms, state title, value||Value, year of minting||1967|
|¥500||26.5 mm||2 mm||7.2 g|| Cupronickel|
|Smooth with lettering ("NIPPON ◆ 500 ◆ NIPPON ◆ 500 ◆")||Paulownia, state title, value||Value, bamboo, Mandarin orange, year of minting||1982|
|7 g|| 72% copper|
|Reeded slantingly||Value, bamboo, Mandarin orange, year of minting, latent image||2000|
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 sen to 10000 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.
Beginning in December 1931, Japan gradually shifted from the gold standard system to the managed currency system.