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Japanese historians have coins and molds used to produce Fuhon-sen coins dating back from the late seventh century. During the Nara period in the eighth century three types of copper coins were minted and these included the Wado Kaichin coin.
Following the production of these coins Japan suspended the creation and circulation of coins. This was due to the fact that over time the coins produced became smaller and the actual content of the coins changed as copper was in short supply so lead content increased. People began to lose faith in the value of the coins and the Kengen Taiho was the last coin minted in 958. During the 10th century silk hemp and rice were used as forms of exchange as they were stable commodities.
However using these products as a form of legal tender had its problems. Carrying heavy goods such as these was inconvenient and a credit system emerged to reduce transportation and handling costs.
During the 12th century coins from China were used as currency in Japan replacing the use of rice, silk and hemp. This continued throughout the thirteenth and fourteenth century whereby demand for coins was increasing at such a rate private minting of coins modelled on Chinese coinage began to take place. In the 16th century there was a decrease in the circulation of Chinese coins so rice was again used as a trading commodity and this is where we first see the introduction of silver and gold coins in Japan. During the 17th century the Tokugawa Shogunate government established a tri metallic unified monetary system by issuing Kan’ei Tsuho coins made from copper, silver and gold.
The Yen which means ‘round object’ became the official currency of Japan in 1871. It was a new decimal accounting system that replaced the former complex monetary system of Tokugawa coins based on the mon.
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The Japanese Yen is the third most traded currency making up 23% of global foreign exchange market turnover in 2013. It is also an important reserve currency after the US Dollar, Euro and the British pound.
The Japanese Yen is the official currency of Japan. The ISO 4217 currency code for the Japanese Yen is JPY.