Japanese Yen

Name of currency: Japanese Yen

Country / countries used: Japan

Symbol: ¥ (international), 円 (Japan—present day), 圓  (Japan—traditional)

Brief history:

The word ‘Yen in Japanese literally means circle or round object, this comes from when the Chinese originally traded in a large amount of silver and Spanish and Mexican coins were attained through money exchange and the Chinese started to call them ‘silver round’ because of their circular nature this then filtered through to japan where the name stuck although later on the Chinese upgraded the symbol they used to one with the same pronunciation in mandarin whereas the Japanese kept with the original symbol (shown as the traditional option above) and had a simplified version for everyday use (marked as present day above).

Because of this familiarity with the Latin currency for so many years the first coins to be produced in the Southeast Asia, as opposed to their previous method of using imported ones obtained though trade, was the Hong Kong silver dollar which were made to resemble the Mexican peso and where produced from 1866 to 1868, this was a short lived movement as the Chinese where not comfortable with the unfamiliarity of these coins and favoured the Mexican currency they were accustomed to for money exchange. When the Hong Kong government terminated production of the coins they sold the minting machinery on to japan, which is when the first Japanese currency was born.

The Yen replaced the old and rather complex Tokugawa coinage system and was implemented by the Meiji government officially in 1871, introducing it gradually throughout that year. At that point it held the value of a dollar unit much like other international dollars which at that point where all roughly the same in terms of money exchange. The New Currency act of 1871 specified that the yen should be used with the decimal structure which consisted of the yen =1, 圓, the sen = ⅟100, 銭, and the rin =⅟1000, 厘. The depreciation of the value of silver in 1873 resulted in the yen becoming devalued in comparison to the dollars from the US and Canada as they were a party to the gold standard and as this continued the yen ended up valuing only about US$0.50 in 1897 which led to japan embracing the gold exchange standard in that year, effectively freezing its value of money exchange at $0.50.

Skipping to the modern day and the Yen is 3rd most traded currency in the foreign exchange market behind the US dollar and the Euro.