Modern coinage originating from the previous government
<<<CONTENT PENDING>>> <<<editing is also in progress so things are out of order and/or possibly repetitive of other pages >>>
Modern Japanese coins are considered those minted since 1870, and the primary focus of the Japan section on this site. The coins are listed and organized in the Japanese Numismatic Dealers Association catalog. Section 1 of the JNDA catalog starts with the 'Modern Type Coins', beginning with the gold 20 yen coin and following each denomination in descending order. Section 2 is labeled 'Current coins'. Section 3 is for commemorative coins and Section 4 contains the Prefecture series, with several more sections following (coin sets, occupation money, currency etc), with additional sections following.
The modern, yet not current, coins are those minted prior to the establishment of the current constitutional monarchy, though two coins do not precisely fit the distinction (hence the overlapping dates I'm using for the sections). The JNDA calls section 1 the 'Modern Type Coins, Meiji 3 nen (1870) ~ Showa 25 nen (1951). I used 1950 for my dividing point only because that is the last dated coin in section 1.
One major factor in the Meiji Restoration involved the monetary system. Prior to the modern era coins were produced of varying size, fineness, shapes and valuations, and had undergone debasement. Private or local minting also occured. With the advent opening trade it was quite significant to have a standardized system that would be consistent for trade.
With the revision, the country was placed nominally under a gold standard and decimalized. The basic unit was the gold yen, with the sen being 1/100 of a yen, and the rin being 1/10 of a sen. Gold coins were to be minted in 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 yen values, with design, weight and fineness as determined by the government and serving as legal tender. Coins minted below the 1 yen denomination were 'subsidiary coins' meant to facilitate transactions and theoretically had limits in a larger transaction (ie up to 10 yen in silver coins or 1 yen in copper).
The 1 yen silver coin was initially to be minted in a limited fashion as a coin used for trade at the treaty ports, and were not legal tender outside those ports. The values were set at 100 silver yen = 101 gold yen. This became problematic later when larger amounts of silver were discovered and the price of silver dropped, resulting in an exodus of gold from Japan.
In Meiji 11 (1878) the silver one yen coins and trade dollars were made legal tender throughout Japan, and effectively Japan was on a silver standard. The coinage act of 1897 removed the silver yen as a legal tender denomination and re-established the gold standard, which remained until World War I. (There was a transient return to the gold standard in 1930-1931, but was abandoned thereafter). The silver yen struck from 1901 (M. 34) and later were minted for use in overseas areas (i.e. Taiwan and Korea), and were not for domestic use. The last silver coin was withdrawn from circulation in 1938 (a 50 sen). As World War II progressed the coinage became further debased, moving from nickel and bronze, to aluminum (and these were lightened) to even tin. Porcelain coins were produced, but the war ended before they were actually released. The catalog considers the latter as patterns.
The post war coinage were minted in 5, 10 and 50 sen denominations and bore the designation 'Government of Japan'.
The Osaka Mint <<<add >>><<"Great Japan">>
Pre WWII <<<add here>>> <<natural resources, embargo>>
Post WWII <<< add>>><<"Government of Japan">> and ?J/V quote re: ~'keeping coins available' Were of the 5,10 and 50 sen denominations.
The last, and brass, 1 yen was quite debased from the previous large silver coins. It was minted from 1948-1950, and though bore the post-constitutional description of "Country of Japan" with the attendant left to right reading, it is categorized as a non-current coin. The last 50 sen was minted in 1947-1948 also with the "Country of Japan", but retained the traditional right to left reading. The last 5 and 10 sen were minted in 1946 and bore the "Government of Japan" inscription. The last sen was produced in 1945 while still bearing the "Great Japan" inscription. Other denominations ceased production even earlier. (The last 20 sen was minted in 1911 and the last 2 sen in 1884, 5 rin in 1919 and one rin in 1884).