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    Japan changed the design and composition of its ¥500 (about US $4.50) coins a few years ago, and a few months ago, it released new bills, too. The Japanese economy being huge and having a fair number of disgruntled unemployed people, it’s a target for counterfeiters, and they’ve sunk to the challenge:

    After a large number of counterfeit ¥500 coins were discovered in Postal Savings ATMs, Japan Post announced on 3 January that [its machines] would stop handling all coins at post offices in Tokyo Metro and in Fukuoka and Kumamoto Prefectures.

    The fakes they’re finding correctly use an alloy of nickel and zinc (the Sinitic compound for which is 亜鉛 [aen: “sub-lead”], which I’ve always found kind of cute), but the composition is different from that in real coins. They also have misaligned stamping and leave off some marks, but according to the authorities, you do have to look closely to see the problems.

    There’s also been a rash of fraudulent withdrawals of cash using faked cash cards. I believe it’s the iC system (comfortingly, the one my JAL card is allied with) that’s had the most problems, though I haven’t paid close enough attention to understand where the chink is that makes it easy to trick. Anyway, they’re still trying to determine whether the legal fault lies with banks or depositors. Koizumi says his financial team is working on it.

    As far as the bills go, this is as good an explanation as I’ve seen of the new technology and the reasoning behind it–mostly, as I say, that Japan has a huge consumer economy and is a target for counterfeiters. Of course, counterfeiters have already started making funny-money versions of the new bills–as industrious and clever as these people are, couldn’t they find a way to make their fortunes honestly?–and the fact that the old notes are still in circulation means that the tricky holograms aren’t yet having much effect. After the New Year, it was discovered that large numbers of false bills had been used to buy fortunes and souvenirs at temples.

    4 Responses to “(偽)造幣”

    1. Mrs. du Toit says:

      false bills had been used to buy fortunes and souvenirs at temples
      Oh, thank you very, very much. That bit of illogic is going to be dancing in my head for decades. “But maybe the didn’t believe that crime was immoral so their G-ds would be ok with them buying religious articles with stolen… no no…it must be that they were…”

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      I originally had a droll comment on that bit posted at the end. I removed it because the action is its own commentary. And yes, even if you don’t believe in the temple deities, you have to believe that such cosmic justice as there is will get these people good for so marring a time-honored ritual of gratitude and hope.

    3. Sean Kinsell says:

      “Ah, son, I remember, back when you were still a toddler, I shystered the guy behind the counter at the temple into selling me this figurine.” I guess it’s a reminder of how cool you played it during the switch-over between types of bills. Or something.

    4. Mrs. du Toit says:

      It was the souvenir bit that got me. A souvenir, purchased with false/stolen money? You put it on the shelf and look at it as a reminder of….?
      This is why aliens don’t land here.