Photo/Illutration The Finance Ministry issued 11 million gold coins in 1986 and 1987 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Emperor Hirohito’s reign. The face value was 100,000 yen for each coin. (Provided by Finance Ministry)

The Board of Audit has described as “inappropriate” the Finance Ministry’s apparent hoarding of gold for commemorative coins for a steadily decreasing number of celebratory events in the country.

The ministry collects coins from circulation as well as gold ingot and bars as materials for new commemorative coins.

According to the Board of Audit, the ministry had 129.49 tons of gold as of the end of fiscal 2019, an increase of 4.54 tons from fiscal 2014.

However, demand for commemorative coins has long been shrinking.

In 1986 and 1987, the ministry used 220 tons of gold to issue 11 million coins to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the reign of Emperor Hirohito, posthumously known as Emperor Showa.

But around 1997, the ministry’s use of its gold started decreasing drastically.

The ministry used only 1.91 tons of its gold for Tokyo Olympic commemorative coins issued between 2018 and 2020.

“It is inappropriate for the ministry to keep gold that is unlikely to be used as materials,” the Board of Audit said.

It asked the ministry to consider selling its gold.

Following the boards urging, the ministry sold 80.76 tons of gold to Foreign Exchange Fund Special Account for about 542 billion yen ($4.8 billion) in March.

“We can’t dump a large amount of our gold all at once into markets, so how to dispose of our gold holdings was a long-standing challenge,” a ministry official said. “This time, we were fortunate to find a buyer by chance.”