Photo/IllutrationEiichi Shibusawa, left, Umeko Tsuda, center, and Shibasaburo Kitasato, right, are the faces of Japan’s new 10,000-yen, 5,000-yen and 1,000-yen banknotes, respectively. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

For the first time in two decades, Japan’s banknotes, 10,000 yen ($90), 5,000 yen and 1,000 yen, and 500-yen coins will be getting fresh designs, the Finance Ministry announced April 9.

Though the news closely follows the announcement of Japan's new era on April 1, Finance Minister Taro Aso said at a news conference that the timing was just a coincidence.

The nation's first new notes since 2004 will be issued in the first half of fiscal 2024 at the earliest. The first new 500-yen coins minted since 2000 will arrive in the first half of fiscal 2021 at the earliest.

To combat counterfeiters, the government has updated the designs of the notes about every 20 years. The last time they were redone, the designs were announced about two years before the new notes arrived, with the government rushing to address the spread of fake banknotes at the time.

This time, however, the government expects about five years are needed to create secure banknotes, Aso said.

The new 10,000-yen paper banknote features Eiichi Shibusawa (1840-1931), an entrepreneur and business leader in early modern Japan known as “the father of Japanese capitalism.”

Tsuda University founder Umeko Tsuda (1864-1929), a pioneer of women’s education, adorns the new 5,000-yen note, while Shibasaburo Kitasato (1853-1931), a globally renowned bacteriologist, is the face of the new 1,000-yen note. All figures made their mark after the 1868 Meiji Restoration.

Tokyo Station’s Marunouchi Building will grace the back of the new 10,000-yen banknotes, while wisteria flowers are on the back of new 5,000-yen bills.

For 1,000-yen banknotes, a work of Japanese art “Kanagawa Oki Namiura” (Under the Wave off Kanagawa) will be printed. The art is one of ukiyo-e woodblock prints “Fugaku Sanjurokkei” (36 views of Mount Fuji) by Katsushika Hokusai.

An idea to redo designs on 2,000-yen bills was shelved because of the currency's small circulation.

The new 500-yen coins will be created using a new “bicolor clad” technology that incorporates mixing white copper and copper, in addition to their current nickel brass content.

The Finance Ministry warns the public to avoid falling prey to fraud artists who claim that current banknotes will no longer be available. Banknotes and 500-yen coins currently in circulation can be used as usual even after the new versions are issued.