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Okinawa still likes the unpopular 2000-yen note

Date Posted: 2010-07-22

The Japanese currency note is the only one in circulation bearing the number ‘2’, enough of a rarity to make people distrust it, leaving only Okinawans as champions of the beleaguered money.

The Bank of Japan began issuing the ¥2000 bill on July 19, 2000 to commemorate the Group of Eight summit in Okinawa, but this bill didn’t catch on with the general public and remains unpopular. There are around 110 million ¥2,000 notes in circulation, about 1% of all Japanese currency.

Okinawans have good reasons for loving the bill; the Okinawan symbol ’Shureimon’ is printed on one side of the bill. The Shureimon Gate in Naha was built in the 16th century as the main gate to Shuri Castle. Shureimon Gate is a symbol of peace, and Okinawans say they want “to promote the spirit of peace from Okinawa” with the ¥2,000 note. Local Okinawa businesses have begun a campaign to promote use of the currency, with local banks converting ATM machines to accept them and shopping malls now giving change in ¥2,000 notes.

The Bank of Japan stopped issuing the ¥2000 bill in fiscal year 2003, and has kept tons of the bills stored in its safe. The circulation of this bill peaked in 2004 but has been in decline ever since. There are various reasons to unpopularity of the ¥2000 bill. The bill resembles the ¥5000 note, and the lack of ATMs that issue them when customers draw cash have made citizens wary.

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