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Bogus ¥10,000 bills put eight in Japanese jails

Date Posted: 2005-05-16

Two Japanese and two Taiwanese citizens are in Okinawa police custody, charged with importing phony ¥10,000 bills.

The four were arrested at Naha International Airport and charged with customs violations for trying to import 999 fake ¥10,000 bills. Another four Japanese men were busted in Hiroshima after they tried to pass phony ¥10,000 bills at supermarkets and a bank.

Between Okinawa and Hiroshima, 2,000 fake bills were confiscated by customs and police officials. The four Hiroshima suspects ranged from 48~68 years of age. They were passing notes bearing the image of Prince Shotoku Taishi. That series of yen notes are old, dating back two generations of currency.

The men were apprehended at the Hiroshima Branch of the Bank of Japan. Police say the four had earlier passed the bills at four other Hiroshima locations, including a large supermarket.

The National Research Institute of Police Sciencesay the ¥10 million in phony bills taken at the Bank of Japan all bore different serial numbers. One suspect insisted to police “we thought they were real.” The NRI says the bills in both Okinawa and Hiroshima prefectures are about the same.

The Naha arrests were on Japanese and Taiwanese men ages 63~72. They were trying to smuggle the money into the country. Customs officials tipped the cops after they became suspicious of the bills.

The Taiwanese suspects—Chi Pei Chu, 72, and Chuang Hsien Chu, 63--said they had gotten the yen from the Chinese mainland, and were planning to convert the counterfeit bills into legitimate yen notes. Two Japanese, Yoshinobu Yamada, 66, and Akira Nakamura, 66, were arrested on charges they were preparing to receive the phony money from the two Taiwanese at Naha International Airport.

The four are also believed responsible for an earlier smuggling operation in early April, at which time police say the men brought in about 1,000 fake ¥10,000 bills.

In Hiroshima, publishing company executive Yoshitaka Maeda, 68, was arrested suspicion of trying to convert the phony money to new bills at the Bank of Japan. Maeda denies knowing the 1,000 yen notes were fake.

Also in Hiroshima, a 55-year-old music teacher, Naoyuki Watanabe, was arrested on suspicion of using a pair of fake ¥10,000 bills to purchase train tickets.

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