Japanese yen

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Japanese yen
日本円 (Japanese)
P103-2000Yen-(2000) front.jpg JPY coins 2.png
2000 yen note printed ShureimonThe 6 types of coins of the Japanese yen
ISO 4217
CodeJPY (numeric:392)
PluralThe language(s) of this currency do(es) not have a morphological plural distinction.
Symbol ¥
Freq. used ¥1,000, ¥5,000, ¥10,000
Rarely used ¥2,000
Freq. used ¥1, ¥5, ¥10, ¥50, ¥100, ¥500
Central bank Bank of Japan
Website boj.or.jp
Printer National Printing Bureau
Website npb.go.jp
Mint Japan Mint
Website mint.go.jp
Inflation 2.6% (December 2023)
SourceStatistics Bureau of Japan [1]
USD/JPY exchange rate 1971-2023 USD-JPY.webp
USD/JPY exchange rate 19712023

The yen (Japanese: , symbol: ¥ ; code: JPY) is the official currency of Japan. It is the third-most traded currency in the foreign exchange market, after the United States dollar and the euro. [2] It is also widely used as a third reserve currency after the US dollar and the euro.


The New Currency Act of 1871 introduced Japan's modern currency system, with the yen defined as 1.5 g (0.048 troy ounces) of gold, or 24.26 g (0.780 troy ounces) of silver, and divided decimally into 100 sen or 1,000 rin. The yen replaced the previous Tokugawa coinage as well as the various hansatsu paper currencies issued by feudal han (fiefs). The Bank of Japan was founded in 1882 and given a monopoly on controlling the money supply. [3]

Following World War II, the yen lost much of its prewar value. To stabilize the Japanese economy, the exchange rate of the yen was fixed at ¥360 per US$ as part of the Bretton Woods system. When that system was abandoned in 1971, the yen became undervalued and was allowed to float. The yen had appreciated to a peak of ¥271 per US$ in 1973, then underwent periods of depreciation and appreciation due to the 1973 oil crisis, arriving at a value of ¥227 per US$ by 1980.

Since 1973, the Japanese government has maintained a policy of currency intervention, so the yen is under a "dirty float" regime. The Japanese government focused on a competitive export market, and tried to ensure a low exchange rate for the yen through a trade surplus. The Plaza Accord of 1985 temporarily changed this situation; the exchange rate fell from its average of ¥239 per dollar in 1985 to ¥128 in 1988 and led to a peak rate of ¥80 against the US$ in 1995, effectively increasing the value of Japan's GDP in dollar terms to almost that of the United States. [4]

Since that time, however, the world price of the yen has greatly decreased, falling to an average of almost ¥150 per dollar in November 2023 (before recovering a little). [5] The Bank of Japan maintains a policy of zero to near-zero interest rates and the Japanese government has previously had a strict anti-inflation policy. [6] From late 2021 to late 2023, the yen depreciated against the dollar by about 40%, [7] [5] giving rise to serious concern in Japan about long-term prospects for the currency. [8] [9] [10] However, this weakness has had some benefits for Japan's tourism industry, as the low exchange rate makes its purchasing power attractive for travellers, particularly those from foreign nations. [11] [12]

Pronunciation and etymology

The name, "Yen", derives from the Japanese word (en, [] ; "round"), which borrows its phonetic reading from Chinese yuan, similar to North Korean won and South Korean won. Originally, the Chinese had traded silver in mass called sycees, and when Spanish and Mexican silver coins arrived from the Philippines, the Chinese called them "silver rounds" (Chinese :銀圓; pinyin :yínyuán) for their circular shapes. [13] The coins and the name also appeared in Japan. While the Chinese eventually replaced ; with , [lower-alpha 1] the Japanese continued to use the same word, which was given the shinjitai form in reforms at the end of World War II.

The spelling and pronunciation "yen" is standard in English, because when Japan was first encountered by Europeans around the 16th century, Japanese /e/ () and /we/ () both had been pronounced [je] and Portuguese missionaries had spelled them "ye". [lower-alpha 2] By the middle of the 18th century, /e/ and /we/ came to be pronounced [e] as in modern Japanese, although some regions retain the [je] pronunciation. Walter Henry Medhurst, who had neither been to Japan nor met any Japanese people, having consulted mainly a Japanese-Dutch dictionary, spelled some "e"s as "ye" in his An English and Japanese, and Japanese and English Vocabulary (1830). [15] In the early Meiji era, James Curtis Hepburn, following Medhurst, spelled all "e"s as "ye" in his A Japanese and English dictionary (1867); in Japanese, e and i are slightly palatalized, somewhat as in Russian. [16] That was the first full-scale Japanese-English/English-Japanese dictionary, which had a strong influence on Westerners in Japan and probably prompted the spelling "yen". Hepburn revised most "ye"s to "e" in the 3rd edition (1886) [17] to mirror the contemporary pronunciation, except "yen". [18]

Coins and banknotes


The obverse side of all coins shows the coin's value in kanji as well as the country name (through 1945, Dai Nippon (大日本, "Great Japan"); after 1945, Nippon-koku (日本国, "State of Japan") (except for the current 5-yen coin with the country name on the reverse). The reverse side of all coins shows the year of mintage, which is not shown in Gregorian calendar years, but instead in the regnal year of the current emperor's reign. Royal portraits have never appeared on Japanese coins, as the image of the emperor remains sacred. [19]


One rin coin from 1873 (year 6 of Meiji) 1rin-M6.jpg
One rin coin from 1873 (year 6 of Meiji)

Bronze coins worth one-one thousandth of a yen called "Rin" were first introduced in 1873. One rin coins were very small measuring 15.75 mm in diameter, and co-circulated with mon coins of the old currency system. Their small size eventually was their undoing as the rin was abandoned in 1884 due to unpopularity. Five rin coins worth one-two hundredth of a yen also used a bronze alloy. These were successor coins to the equally valued half sen coin which had been previously minted until 1888. The decision to bring back an equally valued coin was in response to rising inflation caused by World War I which led to an overall shortage of subsidiary coins. The mintage period for five rin coins was brief as they were discontinued after only four years of production due to their sharp decline in monetary value. The overall demand for subsidiary coinage ended as Japan slipped into a post-war recession. Coins worth 1 and 5 rin were eventually officially taken out of circulation at the end of 1953 and demonetized.


50 sen coin from 1870 (year 3 of Meiji) 50sen-M3.jpg
50 sen coin from 1870 (year 3 of Meiji)

Subsidiary coins of "sen" were initially introduced in 1870 with a silver alloy in denominations of 5, 10, 20 and 50 sen. Copper sen coins in denominations of half, 1, and 2 came three years later, as Japan acquired the technology needed to mint them. The removal of silver from sen coinage began in 1889, when Cupronickel 5 sen coins were introduced. By 1920, this included cupro-nickel 10 sen and reduced-size silver 50 sen coins. Production of latter 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. While clay 5 and 10 sen coins were produced in 1945, they were not issued for circulation. As with the Rin, coins in denominations of less than 1 yen became invalid at the end of 1953 and were demonetized due to inflation.


Early 1-yen coin, 26.96 grams of 90% fine silver, Japan, Meiji year 34 (1901) 1yen-M34.jpg
Early 1-yen coin, 26.96 grams of 90% fine silver, Japan, Meiji year 34 (1901)
20 yen coin from 1870 (year 3 of Meiji) 20yen-M3.jpg
20 yen coin from 1870 (year 3 of Meiji)

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.

After the war, brass 50 sen, 1 and 5 yen were introduced between 1946 and 1948. The current-type holed brass 5 yen was introduced in 1949, the bronze 10 yen in 1951, and the aluminum 1 yen in 1955.

In 1955 the first unholed, nickel 50 yen was introduced. In 1957, silver 100 yen pieces were introduced, followed by the holed 50 yen coin in 1959. These were replaced in 1967 by the current cupro-nickel 100 yen along with a smaller 50 yen. [20]

In 1982, the first cupronickel 500 yen coin was introduced. Alongside with the 5 Swiss franc coin, the 500 yen coin is one of the highest-valued coin to be used regularly in the world, with value of US$4.5 as of October 2017. Because of its high face value, the 500 yen coin has been a favorite target for counterfeiters, resulting in the issuance in 2000 of the second nickel-brass 500 yen coin with added security features. Continued counterfeiting of the latter resulted in the issuance in 2021 of the third bi-metallic 500 yen coin with more improvements in security features.

Currently circulating coins [21]
ImageValueTechnical parametersDescriptionDate of first minting
1JPY.JPG ¥1 20 mm1.5 mm1 g100% aluminiumSmoothYoung tree, state title, valueValue, year of minting1955
5JPY.JPG ¥5 22 mm1.5 mm3.75 g60–70% copper
30–40% zinc
SmoothEar of Rice, gear, water, valueState title, year of minting1949 (rarely) [22]
10JPY.JPG ¥10 23.5 mm1.5 mm4.5 g95% copper
3–4% zinc
1–2% tin
Reeded Phoenix Hall, Byōdō-in, state title, valueEvergreen tree, value, year of minting1951 (rarely) [22]
50JPY.JPG ¥50 21 mm1.7 mm4 g Cupronickel
75% copper
25% nickel
Reeded Chrysanthemum, state title, valueValue, year of minting1967 [lower-alpha 3]
100JPY.JPG ¥100 22.6 mm1.7 mm4.8 g Cupronickel
75% copper
25% nickel
Reeded Cherry blossoms, state title, valueValue, year of minting1967 [lower-alpha 4]
500yen-S57.jpg ¥500 26.5 mm1.85 mm7.2 g Cupronickel
75% copper
25% nickel
Lettered Paulownia, state title, value Bamboo, Mandarin orange, Value, year of minting1982
500JPY.JPG ¥500 26.5 mm2 mm7 g(Nickel-brass) 72% copper
20% zinc
8% nickel
Reeded slantingly Paulownia, state title, value Bamboo, Mandarin orange, Value, year of minting2000
500yen-R3.jpg ¥500 26.5 mm1.81 mm7.1 g Bi-metallic (75% copper
12.5% zinc
12.5% nickel)
Reeded helically Paulownia, state title, value Bamboo, Mandarin orange, Value, year of minting2021
These images are to scale at 2.5 pixels per millimetre. For table standards, see the coin specification table.

Due to the great differences in style, size, weight and the pattern present on the edge of the coin they are easy for people with visual impairments to tell apart from one another.

Smooth edge¥1 (light)
¥10 (medium)
Reeded edge¥100 (medium)
¥500 (heavy)

Commemorative coins have been minted on various occasions in base metal, silver and gold. [25] The first of these were silver ¥100 and ¥1,000 Summer Olympic coins issued for the 1964 games. The largest issuance by denomination and total face value were 10 million gold coins of ¥100,000 denomination for the 60th anniversary of reign of the Shōwa Emperor in 1986, totalling ¥1 trillion and utilizing 200,000 kg fine gold. ¥500 commemorative coins have been regularly issued since 1985. In 2008 commemorative ¥500 and ¥1,000 coins were issued featuring Japan's 47 prefectures. Even though all commemorative coins can be spent like ordinary (non-commemorative) coins, they do not normally circulate, and ¥100,000 coins are treated with caution due to the discovery of counterfeits. [26]

The 1 yen coin is made out of 100% aluminum and can float on water if placed correctly.


The issuance of yen banknotes began in 1872, two years after the currency was introduced. Denominations have ranged from 1 yen to 10,000 yen; since 1984, the lowest-valued banknote is the 1,000 yen note. 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.

Japan is generally considered a cash-based society, with 38% of payments in Japan made by cash in 2014. [27] Possible explanations are that cash payments protect one's privacy, merchants do not have to wait for payment, and it does not carry any negative connotation like credit.

At present, portraits of people from the Meiji period and later are printed on Japanese bank notes. The reason for this is that from the viewpoint of preventing forgery, it is desirable to use a precise photograph as an original rather than a painting for a portrait. [28] [29]

Series E banknotes

Series E banknotes were introduced in 2004 in ¥1000, ¥5000, and ¥10,000 denominations. The EURion constellation pattern is present in the designs.

ImageValueDimensionsMain ColorDescriptionSeriesDate of issue
1000 yen banknote (Series E), obverse.png 1000 yen banknote (Series E), reverse.png ¥1000 150 × 76 mmBlue Hideyo Noguchi Mount Fuji, Lake Motosu and cherry blossoms Series ENovember 1, 2004
2000 yen banknote (Series D), obverse.png 2000 yen banknote (Series D), reverse.png ¥2000 154 × 76 mmGreen Shureimon The Tale of Genji and portrait of Murasaki Shikibu Series DJuly 19, 2000
5000 yen banknote (Series E), obverse.png 5000 yen banknote (Series E), reverse.png ¥5000 156 × 76 mmPurple Ichiyō Higuchi Kakitsubata-zu (Painting of irises, a work by Ogata Kōrin)Series ENovember 1, 2004
10000 yen banknote (Series E), obverse.png 10000 yen banknote (Series E), reverse.png ¥10,000 160 × 76 mmBrown Fukuzawa Yukichi Statue of hōō (phoenix) from Byōdō-in TempleSeries ENovember 1, 2004

Series F banknotes

On April 9, 2019, Finance Minister Tarō Asō announced new designs for Series F banknotes ¥1000, ¥5000, and ¥10,000 notes, for use beginning on July 3, 2024. [30] The ¥1000 bill will feature Kitasato Shibasaburō and The Great Wave off Kanagawa, the ¥5000 bill will feature Tsuda Umeko and Wisteria flowers, and the ¥10,000 bill will feature Shibusawa Eiichi and Tokyo Station. The Ministry decided to not redesign the ¥2000 note due to low circulation.

Series F (2024, scheduled)


DescriptionDate of issue
New 1000 yen banknote obverse.png New 1000 yen banknote reverse.png ¥1000 150 × 76 mmBlue Kitasato Shibasaburō The Great Wave off Kanagawa (from Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji series by Hokusai)July 3, 2024
New 5000 yen banknote obverse.png New 5000 yen banknote reverse.png ¥5000 156 × 76 mmPurple Umeko Tsuda Wisteria flowers
New 10000 yen banknote obverse.png New 10000 yen banknote reverse.png ¥10,000 160 × 76 mmBrown Shibusawa Eiichi Tokyo Station (Marunouchi side)


Early history (1868–1876)

5 yen coin from 1870 (year 3) 5yen-M3.jpg
5 yen coin from 1870 (year 3)
50 sen coin from 1870 (year 3) 50sen-M3.jpg
50 sen coin from 1870 (year 3)

Although the Edo Shogunate collapsed with the Meiji Restoration and a new government was born, the monetary system still took over that of the former entity. During this unstable period, the confusion caused by this form of exchange caused economic turmoil. [31] The gold (counting money) system of eastern Japan and the silver (weighing money) system of the western Japan were not unified, and the difference in the gold-silver ratio caused a large amount of gold to flow overseas at the end of the Tokugawa shogunate. Emperor Meiji responded to this by appointing Ōkuma Shigenobu as head of Japan's monetary reform program. He worked with Inoue Kaoru, Itō Hirobumi, and Shibusawa Eiichi to run the Ministry of Finance, seeking to introduce a modern monetary system into Japan. Ōkuma eventually proposed that coins, which were previously square, be made into circles, and that the names of the traditional currencies, ryō (両), bu (分) and shu (朱), be unified into yen (円), which was accepted by the government. [32] Other rejected proposals included physical weight units of "Fun" and "Momme" which never made it past the pattern stage. [33] [34] [35]

The first gold yen coins consisted of 2, 5, and 20 yen coins which were struck throughout 1870. Five yen coins were first struck in gold for the Japanese government in 1870 at the San Francisco Mint. [36] During this time a new mint was being established at Osaka, which did not receive the gold bullion needed for coinage until the following year. [37] Gold bullion was delivered from private Japanese citizens, foreigners, and the Japanese government. [38] Initially the government opted for silver, which would become the standard unit of value leaving gold coinage as a subsidiary. [39] While gold coinage couldn't be produced domestically in 1870, the mint at Osaka could produce silver coins which included denominations of 5, 10, 20, and 50 sen. [40] [41] None of these coins dated "1870" circulated until the Meiji government officially adopted the "yen" as Japan's modern unit of currency on June 27, 1871. [42] This Act formally stipulated the adoption of the decimal accounting system of yen (1, ), sen (1100, ), and rin (11000, ). The new currency was gradually introduced beginning from July of that year.

Japanese yen denominated paper currency was also conceived with the coins in 1870 as Meiji Tsuho notes by Italian engraver Edoardo Chiossone. [43] These were released as fiat currency in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 50, and 100 yen along with subsidiary notes of 10, 20, and 50 sen in 1872. Almost concurrently, the government established a series of national banks modeled after the system in the United States which issued national bank notes.

Satsuma Rebellion and aftermath (1877–1887)

Massive inflation from the Satsuma Rebellion in 1877 caused a glut of non-redeemable fiat currency notes. The issuance of national fiat banknotes was ultimately suspended in 1880 by then prime minister Matsukata Masayoshi. [44] [45] New policies were put into place which included the establishment of a centralized banking system. [46] [45] The Bank of Japan hence commenced operations on October 10, 1882, with the authority to print banknotes that could be exchanged for the old Government and National Bank Notes. [47] [48] By May 1883, another act provided the redemption and retirement of national bank notes. [49] [50] The National Bank Act was amended again in March 1896, providing for the dissolution of the national banks on the expiration of their charters. [49] This amendment also prohibited national bank notes from circulating after December 31, 1899. [51] In that year, Japan adopted a gold exchange standard, defining the yen as 0.75 g fine gold or US$0.4985. [52]

This exchange rate remained in place until Japan left the gold standard in December 1931, after which the yen fell to $0.30 by July 1932 and to $0.20 by 1933. [53]

It remained steady at around $0.30 until the start of the Pacific War on December 7, 1941, at which time it fell to $0.23. [54]

The sen and the rin were eventually taken out of circulation at the end of 1953. [55]

Fixed value of the yen to the U.S. dollar

No true exchange rate existed for the yen between December 7, 1941, and April 25, 1949; wartime inflation reduced the yen to a fraction of its prewar value.

After a period of instability, on April 25, 1949, the U.S. occupation government fixed the value of the yen at ¥360 per USD through a United States plan, which was part of the Bretton Woods system, to stabilize prices in the Japanese economy. [56]

That exchange rate was maintained until 1971, when the United States abandoned the gold standard, ending a key element of the Bretton Woods system, and setting in motion changes that eventually led to floating exchange rates in 1973.

Yen and major currencies float

By 1971, the yen had become undervalued. Japanese exports were costing too little in international markets, and imports from abroad were costing the Japanese too much. This undervaluation was reflected in the current account balance, which had risen from the deficits of the early 1960s, to a then-large surplus of US$5.8 billion in 1971. The belief that the yen, and several other major currencies, were undervalued motivated the United States' actions in 1971.

Following the United States' measures to devalue the dollar in the summer of 1971, the Japanese government agreed to a new, fixed exchange rate as part of the Smithsonian Agreement, signed at the end of the year. This agreement set the exchange rate at ¥308 per US$. However, the new fixed rates of the Smithsonian Agreement were difficult to maintain in the face of supply and demand pressures in the foreign-exchange market. In early 1973, the rates were abandoned, and the major nations of the world allowed their currencies to float.

Yen adoption in Okinawa

After World War II the United States-administered Okinawa issued a higher-valued currency called the B yen from 1946 to 1958, which was then replaced by the U.S. dollar at the rate of $1 = 120 B yen. Upon the reversion of Okinawa to Japan in 1972 the Japanese yen then replaced the dollar. In light of the dollar's reduction in value from ¥360 to ¥308 just before the reversion, an unannounced "currency confirmation" took place on October 9, 1971, wherein residents disclosed their dollar holdings in cash and bank accounts; dollars held that day amounting to US$60 million were entitled for conversion in 1972 at a higher rate of ¥360. [57]

Japanese government intervention in the currency market

In the 1970s, Japanese government and business people were very concerned that a rise in the value of the yen would hurt export growth by making Japanese products less competitive and would damage the industrial base. The government, therefore, continued to intervene heavily in foreign-exchange marketing (buying or selling dollars), even after the 1973 decision to allow the yen to float. [58]

Despite intervention, market pressures caused the yen to continue climbing in value, peaking temporarily at an average of ¥271 per US$ 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 per US$ to ¥300 per US$ 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 per US$ by 1980. [58]

Yen in the early 1980s

During the first half of the 1980s, the yen failed to rise in value, though current account surpluses returned and grew quickly. From ¥221 per US$ in 1981, the average value of the yen actually dropped to ¥239 per US$ in 1985. The rise in the current account surplus generated stronger demand for yen in foreign-exchange markets, but this trade-related demand for yen was offset by other factors. A wide differential in interest rates, with United States interest rates much higher than those in Japan, and the continuing moves to deregulate the international flow of capital, led to a large net outflow of capital from Japan. This capital flow increased the supply of yen in foreign-exchange markets, as Japanese investors changed their yen for other currencies (mainly dollars) to invest overseas. This kept the yen weak relative to the dollar and fostered the rapid rise in the Japanese trade surplus that took place in the 1980s.

Effect of the Plaza Accord

JPY Nominal Effective Exchange Rates (1970-).svg
JPY Real Effective Exchange Rates (1970-).svg
JPY nominal and real effective exchange rates (2005 = 100)

In 1985, a dramatic change began. Finance officials from major nations signed an agreement (the Plaza Accord) affirming that the dollar was overvalued (and, therefore, the yen undervalued). This agreement, and shifting supply and demand pressures in the markets, led to a rapid rise in the value of the yen. From its average of ¥239 per US$ in 1985, the yen rose to a peak of ¥128 in 1988, virtually doubling its value relative to the dollar. After declining somewhat in 1989 and 1990, it reached a new high of ¥123 to US$ in December 1992. In April 1995, the yen hit a peak of under 80 yen/US$, temporarily making Japan's economy nearly the size of that of the US. [59]

Post-bubble years

The yen declined during the Japanese asset price bubble and continued to do so afterwards, reaching a low of ¥134 to US$ in February 2002. The Bank of Japan's policy of zero interest rates has discouraged yen investments, with the carry trade of investors borrowing yen and investing in better-paying currencies (thus further pushing down the yen) estimated to be as large as $1 trillion. [60] In February 2007, The Economist estimated that the yen was 15% undervalued against the dollar, and as much as 40% undervalued against the euro. [61]

After the global economic crisis of 2008

Comparison of the GNP-weighted nominal exchange rates: CHF and JPY versus CNY, EUR, USD, and GBP Currency gnp weighted comparison 1999 2011.svg
Comparison of the GNP-weighted nominal exchange rates: CHF and JPY versus CNY, EUR, USD, and GBP

However, this trend of depreciation reversed after the global economic crisis of 2008. Other major currencies, except the Swiss franc, have been declining relative to the yen.

On April 4, 2013, the Bank of Japan announced that they would expand their asset purchase program by $1.4 trillion in two years. The Bank of Japan hopes to bring Japan from deflation to inflation, aiming for 2% inflation. The number of purchases is so large that it is expected to double the money supply, but this move has sparked concerns that the authorities in Japan are deliberately devaluing the yen to boost exports. [62] However, the commercial sector in Japan worried that the devaluation would trigger an increase in import prices, especially for energy and raw materials.

Redenomination proposals

Numerous proposals have been made since the 1990s to redenominate the yen by introducing a new unit or new yen, equal to 100 yen, and nearly worth one U.S. dollar. This has not happened to date, since the yen remains trusted globally despite its low unit value, and due to the huge costs of reissuing new currency and updating currency-reading hardware. The negative impact of postponing upgrades to various computer software until redenomination occurs, in particular, was also cited. [63]

Determinants of value

Most traded currencies by value
Currency distribution of global foreign exchange market turnover [64]
RankCurrency ISO 4217
Symbol or
Proportion of daily volumeGrowth rate (2019-2022)
April 2019April 2022
1 U.S. dollar USDUS$88.3%88.5%Increase2.svg 0.2%
2 Euro EUR32.3%30.5%Decrease2.svg 5.5%
3 Japanese yen JPY¥ / 16.8%16.7%Decrease2.svg 0.6%
4 Sterling GBP£12.8%12.9%Increase2.svg 0.7%
5 Renminbi CNY¥ / 4.3%7.0%Increase2.svg 62.7%
6 Australian dollar AUDA$6.8%6.4%Decrease2.svg 5.8%
7 Canadian dollar CADC$5.0%6.2%Increase2.svg 24%
8 Swiss franc CHFCHF4.9%5.2%Increase2.svg 6.1%
9 Hong Kong dollar HKDHK$3.5%2.6%Decrease2.svg 25.7%
10 Singapore dollar SGDS$1.8%2.4%Increase2.svg 33.3%
11 Swedish krona SEKkr2.0%2.2%Increase2.svg 10%
12 South Korean won KRW₩ / 2.0%1.9%Decrease2.svg 5%
13 Norwegian krone NOKkr1.8%1.7%Decrease2.svg 5.5%
14 New Zealand dollar NZDNZ$2.1%1.7%Decrease2.svg 19%
15 Indian rupee INR1.7%1.6%Decrease2.svg 5.8%
16 Mexican peso MXN$1.7%1.5%Decrease2.svg 11.7%
17 New Taiwan dollar TWDNT$0.9%1.1%Increase2.svg 22.2%
18 South African rand ZARR1.1%1.0%Decrease2.svg 9%
19 Brazilian real BRLR$1.1%0.9%Decrease2.svg 18.1%
20 Danish krone DKKkr0.6%0.7%Increase2.svg 16.6%
21 Polish złoty PLN0.6%0.7%Increase2.svg 16.6%
22 Thai baht THB฿0.5%0.4%Decrease2.svg 20%
23 Israeli new shekel ILS0.3%0.4%Increase2.svg 33.3%
24 Indonesian rupiah IDRRp0.4%0.4%Steady2.svg 0%
25 Czech koruna CZK0.4%0.4%Steady2.svg 0%
26 UAE dirham AEDد.إ0.2%0.4%Increase2.svg 100%
27 Turkish lira TRY1.1%0.4%Decrease2.svg 63.6%
28 Hungarian forint HUFFt0.4%0.3%Decrease2.svg 25%
29 Chilean peso CLPCLP$0.3%0.3%Steady2.svg 0%
30 Saudi riyal SAR0.2%0.2%Steady2.svg 0%
31 Philippine peso PHP0.3%0.2%Decrease2.svg 33.3%
32 Malaysian ringgit MYRRM0.2%0.2%Steady2.svg 0%
33 Colombian peso COPCOL$0.2%0.2%Steady2.svg 0%
34 Russian ruble RUB1.1%0.2%Decrease2.svg 81.8%
35 Romanian leu RONL0.1%0.1%Steady2.svg 0%
36 Peruvian sol PENS/0.1%0.1%Steady2.svg 0%
37 Bahraini dinar BHD.د.ب0.0%0.0%Steady2.svg 0%
38 Bulgarian lev BGNBGN0.0%0.0%Steady2.svg 0%
39 Argentine peso ARSARG$0.1%0.0%Decrease2.svg 100%
Other1.8%2.3%Increase2.svg 27.7%
Total [note 1] 200.0%200.0%
  1. The total sum is 200% because each currency trade is counted twice: once for the currency being bought and once for the one being sold. The percentages above represent the proportion of all trades involving a given currency, regardless of which side of the transaction it is on. For example, the US dollar is bought or sold in 88% of all currency trades, while the euro is bought or sold in 31% of all trades.

Beginning in December 1931, Japan gradually shifted from the gold standard system to the managed currency system. [65]

The relative value of the yen is determined in foreign exchange markets by the economic forces of supply and demand. The supply of the yen in the market is governed by the desire of yen holders to exchange their yen for other currencies to purchase goods, services, or assets. The demand for the yen is governed by the desire of foreigners to buy goods and services in Japan and by their interest in investing in Japan (buying yen-denominated real and financial assets).

Since the 1990s, the Bank of Japan, the country's central bank, has kept interest rates low to spur economic growth. Short-term lending rates have responded to this monetary relaxation and fell from 3.7% to 1.3% between 1993 and 2008. [66] Low interest rates combined with a ready liquidity for the yen prompted investors to borrow money in Japan and invest it in other countries (a practice known as carry trade). This has helped to keep the value of the yen low compared to other currencies.[ citation needed ]

International reserve currency

The special drawing rights (SDR) valuation is an IMF basket of the world's major reserve currencies, including the Japanese yen. Its share of 8.33% as of 2016 has declined from 18% as of 2000. [67]

The percental composition of currencies of official foreign exchange reserves from 1995 to 2022. [68] [69] [70]

   US dollar

Historical exchange rate

Before the war commenced, the yen traded on an average of 3.6 yen to the dollar. After the war the yen went as low as 600 yen per USD in 1947, as a result of currency overprinting in order to fund the war, and afterwards to fund the reconstruction.

When MacArthur and the US forces entered Japan in 1945, they decreed an official conversion rate of 15 yen to the USD. Within 1945–1946: the rate tanked to 50 yen to the USD because of the ongoing inflation. During the first half of 1946, the rate fluctuated to 66 yen to the USD and eventually plummeting to 600 yen to the dollar by 1947 because of the failure of the economic remedies. Eventually, the peg was officially moved to 270 yen to the dollar in 1948 before being adjusted again from 1949 to 1971 to 360 yen to the dollar.

Beginning in 2022 the Yen rate has become increasingly weaker with each passing month. As a result, the yen fell to the 151 yen level against the US dollar, marking the first depreciation of the yen in 32 years on a nominal effective exchange rate and the first depreciation on a real effective exchange rate in 52 years. The reasoning behind this is the US moving towards higher interest rates, while Japan remains "ultra-low". Other factors include the strength of the US economy and its labor market, while Japan continues to lag behind its peers to bring its economy back to its pre-pandemic size. Japan's trade balance staying in the red is also likely feeding into the weaker yen. [8] Interviewed by Asahi Shimbun Digital in September 2022, Izuru Kato, chief economist at Totan Research, expressed concern about the sharp fall in its value since 2022. [9] and Moneypost reported that the exchange rate instability had made it impossible to exchange the currency for Japanese yen at some exchange offices. [71] With the rate returning to ¥150 in November 2023, concern deepened as Nikkei sources expected the yen to depreciate further in the future. [72] The Economist (London) expressed concern over the performance of the Bank of Japan, suggested that a systemic risk is posed to the world financial system. [10]

Average spot rates v USD

The table below shows the monthly average of the U.S. dollar–yen spot rate (JPY per USD) at 17:00 JST: [73] [74] [75]

JPY-USD 1950-.svg
JPY/USD exchange rate since 1950
JPY-USD v2.svg
JPY/USD exchange rate in the Heisei and Reiwa eras
JPY-CAD v2.svg
JPY/CAD exchange rate
JPY-EUR v2.svg
JPY/EUR exchange rate
JPY-GBP v2.svg
JPY/GBP exchange rate
JPY-CHF v2.svg
JPY/CHF exchange rate
JPY-AUD v2.svg
JPY/AUD exchange rate
JPY-NZD v2.svg
JPY/NZD exchange rate
JPY-ZAR v2.svg
JPY/ZAR exchange rate
JPY-CNY v2.svg
JPY/CNY exchange rate
KRW-JPY v2.svg
KRW/JPY exchange rate
JPY-INR v2.svg
JPY/INR exchange rate
Current JPY exchange rates

See also

Older currency


  1. ; yuán is not a simplified form of ; ; yuán, but a completely different character. One of the reasons for replacements is said to be that the previous character had too many strokes. [13] Both characters have the same pronunciation in Mandarin, but not in Japanese. In 1695, certain Japanese coins were issued whose surface has the character gen (), but this is an abbreviation of the era name Genroku (元禄).
  2. It is known that in ancient Japanese there were distinct syllables /e//we//je/. From middle of the 10th century, /e/ () had merged with /je/, and both were pronounced [je], while a kana for /je/ had disappeared. Around the 13th century, /we/ () and /e/ ceased to be distinguished (in pronunciation, but not in writing system) and both came to be pronounced [je]. [14]
  3. Previously minted pure nickel 50 yen coins dated between 1955 and 1966 are still legal tender. [22] These are rarely seen in circulation due to the price of nickel bullion. [23]
  4. Previously minted 100 yen silver coins dated between 1957 and 1966 are still legal tender. [22] Silver was dropped from the coinage in 1967, which led to coin hoarding and silver smuggling outside of the country for melting. [24] In light of this and their changed design, its unclear if these coins still circulate today.

Related Research Articles

The New Taiwan dollar is the official currency of the Republic of China. The New Taiwan dollar has been the currency of the island of Taiwan since 1949, when it replaced the old Taiwan dollar, at a rate of 40,000 old dollars per one new dollar. The basic unit of the New Taiwan dollar is called a yuan (圓) and is subdivided into ten chiao (角), and into 100 fen (分) or cents, although in practice both chiao and fen are never actually used.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Japanese mon (currency)</span> Coins used from 1336 to 1891

The mon was the currency of Japan from the Muromachi period in 1336 until the early Meiji period in 1870. It co-circulated with the new sen until 1891. Throughout Japanese history, there were many styles of currency of many shapes, styles, designs, sizes and materials, including gold, silver, bronze, etc. The kanji for mon (文) also shares its name with Chinese wén, Korean mun, Vietnamese văn.

Japanese currency has a history covering the period from the 8th century AD to the present. After the traditional usage of rice as a currency medium, Japan adopted currency systems and designs from China before developing a separate system of its own.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">500 yen coin</span> Highest circulating denomination of Japanese yen coinage

The 500 yen coin is the largest denomination of Japanese yen coin issued for circulation. These coins were first struck in 1982 as the vending machine industry needed a higher valued coin for use in their machines. The denomination had previously been issued as paper currency which co-circulated with the new coins until 1994. Originally the 500 yen coin was made up of cupronickel, but was later changed to nickel brass, and then to bi-metallic to deter counterfeiting. This illegal practice has been a constant issue since the coin was first released due to its high purchase value. With a history spanning 3 imperial eras, 500 yen coins are also collectibles.

The 1 yen note (1円券) was a denomination of Japanese yen in seven different series from 1872 to 1946 for use in commerce. These circulated with the 1 yen coin until 1914, and briefly again before the notes were suspended in 1958. Notes from the Japanese government, known as "government notes," were the first to be issued through a company in Germany. Because they were being counterfeited, they were replaced by a new series which included the first portrait on a Japanese banknote. Almost concurrently, the government established a series of national banks modeled after the system in the United States. These national banks were private entities that also released their own notes which were later convertible into gold and silver. All three of these series came to an end due to massive inflation from the Satsuma Rebellion in 1877. National bank notes were re-issued as fiat currency before the national banks themselves were abolished. Both national bank and government one yen notes were gradually redeemed for Bank of Japan note starting in 1885. This redemption process lasted until all three series were abolished in 1899.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1 yen coin</span> Smallest denomination of the Japanese yen currency

The 1-yen coin is the smallest denomination of the Japanese yen currency. Historically they were initially made of both silver and gold in the early 1870s. Issues facing the Japanese government at the time included wanting to adopt the gold standard, and competing against the Mexican dollar for use in foreign trade. The decision was made to use silver one yen coins exclusively outside of Japan for trade, while gold coins were minted and used in mainland Japan. Gold and silver coins were eventually allowed to co-circulate in mainland Japan from 1878 to 1897 when they were demonetized. Millions of former one yen silver coins were countermarked by the Japanese government for use outside of the mainland. Silver one yen coins continued to be minted until 1914 for backing up currency.

The 50 sen coin (五十銭硬貨) was a Japanese coin worth half of a Japanese yen, as 100 sen equalled 1 yen. These coins circulated from the late 19th century to the early 1950s, when Japan adopted a single currency unit and this coin was demonetized.

The 10 sen coin (十銭硬貨) was a Japanese coin worth one tenth of a Japanese yen, as 100 sen equalled 1 yen. These coins were minted from the late 19th century up until the end of World War II.

The 20 sen coin (二十銭銀貨) was a Japanese coin worth one fifth of a Japanese yen, as 100 sen equalled 1 yen. These coins were all minted in silver during the Meiji era from 1870 to 1911.

The half sen coin (半銭) was a Japanese coin worth one two-hundredth of a Japanese yen, as 100 sen equalled 1 yen. All half sen coins were minted during the Meiji period between 1873 and 1888, and are made from nearly pure copper. These coins were later replaced for a brief time by another coin with the same value in the 1910s. The half sen coin was demonetized at the end of 1953 along with other subsidiary coinage and is no longer legal tender. They are now readily available for collectors to own as coins from this denomination were minted in large quantities.

The five rin coin (五厘青銅貨) was a Japanese coin worth one two-hundredth of a Japanese yen, as 5 rin equalled +12 sen, and 100 sen equaled 1 yen. These coins were a successor to the equally valued half sen coin which was previously minted until 1888. Overall, the history of the five rin coin is brief as they were only minted from 1916 to 1919 before being devalued monetarily. They were later demonetized by the end of 1953 and are now widely available for collectors.

The one rin coin (一厘銅貨) was a Japanese coin worth one one-thousandth of a Japanese yen, as 10 rin equalled 1 sen, and 100 sen equaled 1 yen. The coins are no longer in circulation, but they are bought and sold both by professional numismatists and by amateur coin collectors.

The 20 yen coin (二十圓硬貨) was a denomination of Japanese yen. These coins were minted in gold, and during their lifespan were the highest denomination of coin that circulated in the country. The first coins were minted in 1870 following the introduction of a decimal currency system. Twenty Yen coins spanned three different Imperial eras before mintage was halted in 1932. Many of these coins were then melted or destroyed as a result of the wars between 1931 and 1945. These coins are now collected by numismatists for academic study, and by those with a hobby.

The one sen coin (一銭) was a Japanese coin worth one-hundredth of a Japanese yen, as 100 sen equalled 1 yen. One sen coins were first struck for circulation during the 6th year of Meiji's reign (1873) using a dragon design. The denomination had been adopted in 1871 but coinage at the time could not be carried out. Aside from an alloy change and a new rice stalk wreath design, one sen coins remained the same weight and size for the remainder of the era. The situation changed when World War I broke out under Emperor Taishō as rising metal costs led to a size and weight reduction. These smaller coins were first produced in 1916 with a paulownia design which was seen as liberal at the time. Emperor Shōwa took the throne in 1926, and Japan was pushed into a militaristic regime by the early 1930s causing metals to be set aside for wartime conditions. These effects would later impact one sen coins through numerous alloy, size, and design changes.

The 2 sen coin (二銭硬貨) was a Japanese coin worth one-fiftieth of a Japanese yen, as 100 sen equalled 1 yen. Two sen coins were minted during the Meiji period, and are made from nearly pure copper. Priority was initially given to silver coins when the new yen currency system was adopted in 1871 as copper coins could not be produced yet. Aside from a design change and a two year lapse, two sen coins were made from 1873 to 1884. The two sen coin was then discontinued and eventually demonetized in the mid-20th century. These coins are now sought after as collectors items which bring premium amounts depending on the date and condition.

The 10 sen note (十銭紙幣) was a denomination of Japanese yen issued in four different series from 1872 to 1947 for use in commerce. Meiji Tsūhō notes are the first modern banknotes issued after Japanese officials studied western culture. There circulated alongside ten sen coins until their withdrawal in 1887. The other three series of ten sen notes issued are in some way tied to the impacts of World War I and World War II. Taishō fractional ten sen notes were issued as a response to a coin shortage that was caused by the first of these wars. They were eventually suspended in the early 1920s when things had settled down, and were later demonetized in 1948. The last two series of ten sen notes were issued by the Bank of Japan rather than the treasury. First series notes were issued as ten sen coins could no longer be produced, while the A series was released after the war in a futile attempt to curb inflation. These last two issues were demonetized at the end of 1953 when the Japanese government passed a law abolishing subsidiary notes in favor of the yen. Ten sen notes are now bought and sold as collectors items depending on condition.

The 20 sen note (二十銭紙幣) was a denomination of Japanese yen in three different government issued series from 1872 to 1919 for use in commerce. Meiji Tsūhō notes are the first modern banknotes issued after Japanese officials studied western culture. These notes were replaced due to counterfeting by a redesigned series called "Ōkura-kyō" for "sen" denominations. Both of these series were officially abolished in 1899 in favor of notes issued by the Bank of Japan. Government issued notes only returned during the Taishō era in the form of an emergency issue due to a coin shortage. These were only issued between 1917 and 1919 before they were finally abolished in 1948. Twenty sen notes are now bought and sold as collectors items depending on condition.

The 50 sen note (五十銭紙幣) was a denomination of Japanese yen in six different government issued series from 1872 to 1948 for use in commerce. Those in the "Meiji Tsūhō" series are the first modern banknotes issued after Japanese officials studied western culture. Counterfeiting eventually became an issue which led to the issuance of "Ōkura-kyō" notes in 1882. These were issued as part of a larger series featuring Empress Jingū on the obverse. Both of these series of fifty sen notes circulated alongside fifty sen coins until their abolishment in 1899. No additional notes were issued for this era as the other four series are tied in some way to the world wars. Fifty sen notes returned during the Taishō era in the form of an emergency issue due to a coin shortage and rising silver prices. These were issued between 1917 and 1922 before the situation settled enough to resume coinage. Silver became an issue again during the Shōwa era in lieu of the Second Sino-Japanese War, which prompted the government to issue "Fuji Sakura" notes in 1938. As the war raged on, the notes were changed in design to be more nationalistic. The "Yasukuni" series was issued from 1942 to 1945 depicting images related to State Shinto. These were allowed to be released again for a final time after the war had ended. Fifty sen notes were last issued in 1948 featuring no references to the Emperor. Pre-war notes were abolished on August 31, 1948, while the last series continued to circulate until the end of 1953. Fifty sen notes are now bought and sold as collectors items depending on condition.

The 2 yen note (2円券) was a denomination of Japanese yen issued in two different overlapping series from 1872 to 1880 for use in commerce. Meiji Tsūhō "two yen" notes were the first to be released as inconvertible government notes in 1872. These notes were produced both domestically, and in Germany using western technology. While they had an elaborate design, the notes eventually suffered in paper quality, and were counterfeited. Two yen Meiji Tsūhō notes were not redesigned with other denominations in response to these issues. The series as a whole was affected by massive inflation that occurred during the aftermath of the Satsuma Rebellion in 1877. Too many non convertible notes had been issued to pay for the expenses incurred. Government notes stopped being issued in 1879, and the Bank of Japan was established in 1882 as a way to redeem old notes for new ones issued by the bank. This redemption period expired when the notes were abolished on December 9, 1899.

Japanese military currency (日本軍用手票) is the name given to money used by the Japanese armed forces for the purchase of supplies in occupied territories. It was mainly issued in denominations of yen, and subsidiary currency of sen with the exception of the first Sino-Japanese War series. This particular article covers pre-Shōwa era currency issued from 1894 to 1918 in three different periods. During this time Japan was militarily involved in the First Sino-Japanese War, Russo-Japanese War, and events during World War I such as the Siberian intervention. The military currency issued during these events circulated in Japanese Korea, the Republic of China (Manchuria), and the Russian State. All of the notes issued share a similar design which resembles government issued civilian currency which circulated in Japan from 1872 to 1899. Japanese military currency was exchangeable at the given time for both silver and gold bullion. Most of these events were not long term which impacted the amount of surviving currency in different ways. It was also routine after each event for officials to exchange the military currency issued for bullion or other forms of payment such as banknotes. Unredeemed notes were thus either held by the public as commemorates or eventually lost in the decades that followed. Those that remain today are collected and traded depending on the condition and surviving rate of the series.



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Further reading

Preceded by:
Japanese mon
Currency of Japan
Succeeded by: