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Japan Releases New Banknotes Today (July 3, 2024)

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发表于 7-3-2024 12:38:52 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
本帖最后由 choi 于 7-17-2024 15:19 编辑

Latest news first.

(1) Jessie Yeung, Hanako Montgomery and Junko Ogura, How Japan's Newest Yen Note Came from the Nepali mountains. CNN, July 2, 2024/
https://www.cnn.com/2024/07/02/b ... intl-hnk/index.html

Quote:

(a) "Though Japan has pushed for more digital payments in recent years, cash still reigns king, and it trails behind other Asian countries like China that have gone almost completely cashless

(b) "The path from shrub to bill begins at the foot of the Himalayas in Nepal, near towns that have long been famous not for their agriculture but as gateways to Mount Everest.

"Here, every spring, hillsides erupt in yellow – the flowers of the mitsumata plant, also known as argeli or paperbush, native to the Himalayan range. Its bark has long, strong fibers that are perfect for making thin yet durable paper, according to the Kantou [sic; should be Kanpou] website.

"It used to be grown domestically in Japan, but production has been slowly dwindling for years, said [Kanpou President Tadashi] Matsubara [社長 松原 正]. It's hard work tied to the countryside, and people are increasingly moving from rural areas to big cities like Tokyo in search of jobs – leaving shrinking villages and dying industries.

(c) "The diminishing rural population, worsened by Japan’s demographic crisis as birth rates plummet, also mean “there are no heirs, there are no inheritors” to paperbush farms, he added.

"That's where the Nepali supply chain came in.

(d) "And the new bills being distributed this week boast a number of new features, according to the Bank of Japan – including hologram portraits depicting a number of prominent historical figures to prevent counterfeiting, with the portrait heads appearing to turn from side to side as you move the bill.

"While other countries have previously used holograms on currency, this is the first such use of hologram portraits, according to the central bank. Other features include parts of the bill printed in pearl and luminescent ink, and tactile marks for the visually impaired.

(e) "In 2022, paper articles and paper scraps – including other products besides the paperbush used for currency – made up more than 9% of Nepal’s exports to Japan, worth $1.2 million, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), which visualizes and distributes international trade data.

"As of last year, more than 60% of transactions in Japan were done with cash, with the remainder by digital payments and other methods, according to the national Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry [METI 経済産業省].

Note: You should view photos, but there is no need to read the rest of the article, which will be filled in in the next article.




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 楼主| 发表于 7-3-2024 12:40:33 | 显示全部楼层
(2) Bhadra Sharma and Alex Travelli, Japan's Cold, Hard Cash Is Growing on the Himalayan Hillsides. New York Times, Apr 16, 2024, at page A1
https://www.nytimes.com/2024/04/ ... pan-yen-argeli.html

Note:
(a) Kanpou is another way to romanize Japanese, the other being Kanpō. Both ou and ō means a long vowel of o.
(i) Kanpou Incorporated  株式会社 かんぽう
(ii) Japanese-English dictionary:
* kanpō 官報 【かんぽう】 (n): "official daily gazette"
* mitsumata 三椏 or 三つ叉 (n or adj): "three-pronged"
(iii) かんぽうについて 会社の概要と沿革
https://kanpo.net/about2/index.html
("弊社は1921年(大正10年)創業以来、90余年官報・公告・政府刊行物の専門書店として、ここ大阪で営業して参りました")

is a CIVILIAN company that has published (Japanese) government publications, that has been doing business in Osaka (since 1921). The Japanese company is the counterpart of Government Publishing Office (GPO)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Un ... t_Publishing_Office
(1861- ; within United States Congress)

(b)
(i) Regarding The Mitsumata. Kanpou, Inc, undated
https://kanpo.net/webplusshop/english/index.html
("What is Mitsumata? The Chrysantha has been called 'Mitsumata.' Because the Chrysantha is tree of the Thymelaeaceae, and this branch divides always naturally into three branches. In spring, tip of these 3 branches bloom yellow flowers. The Himalayan Range is the country of origin of 'Mitsumata' ")
(ii) The mitsumata is refined in Note (a)(ii).
(iii) The mitsumata is Japanese name for Edgeworthia chrysantha
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgeworthia_chrysantha
("The Latin specific epithet chrysantha is in reference to the plant's yellow flowers."/ deciduous/ section 2 Distribution and habitat: "This species is native to Myanmar and south-central and southeast China.] It is naturalized in Japan. It grows in forests and shrubby slopes")
(A) The last quotation means that the species was introduced to Japan, which was not natural range of the plant.
(B) English dictionary:
* specific (adj; etymology: "Late Latin specificus, from Latin [noun feminine] species"): "of, relating to, or constituting a species and especially a biological species"
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/specific

Latin-English dictionary:
* specificus (adjective masculine): "specific, particular"
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/specificus

--------------------NYT
The views are spectacular in this corner of eastern Nepal, between the world’s highest mountains and the tea estates of India’s Darjeeling district, where rare orchids grow and red pandas play on the lush hillsides.

But life can be tough. Wild animals destroyed the corn and potato crops of Pasang Sherpa, a farmer born near Mount Everest. He gave up on those plants a dozen years ago and resorted to raising one that seemed to have little value: argeli, an evergreen, yellow-flowering shrub found wild in the Himalayas. Farmers grew it for fencing or firewood.

Mr. Sherpa had no idea that bark stripped from his argeli would one day turn into pure money — the outgrowth of an unusual trade in which one of the poorest pockets of Asia supplies a primary ingredient for the economy in one of the richest.

Japan’s currency is printed on special paper that can no longer be sourced at home. The Japanese love their old-fashioned yen notes, and this year they need mountains of fresh ones, so Mr. Sherpa and his neighbors have a lucrative reason to hang on to their hillsides.

“I hadn’t thought these raw materials would be exported to Japan or that I would make money from this plant,” Mr. Sherpa said. “I’m now quite happy. This success came from nowhere, it grew up from my courtyard.”

Headquartered 2,860 miles away in Osaka, Kanpou Incorporated produces paper used by the Japanese government for official purposes. One of Kanpou’s charitable programs had been scouting the foothills of the Himalayas since the 1990s. It went there to help local farmers dig wells. Its agents eventually stumbled onto a solution for a Japanese problem.

Japan’s supply of mitsumata, the traditional paper used to print its bank notes, was running low. The paper starts with woody pulp from plants of the Thymelaeaceae family, which grow at high altitude with moderate sunshine and good drainage — tea-growing terrain. Shrinking rural populations and climate change were driving Japan’s farmers to abandon their labor-intensive plots.

Kanpou’s president at the time knew that mitsumata had its origins in the Himalayas. So, he wondered: Why not transplant it? After years of trial and error, the company discovered that argeli, a hardier relative, was already growing wild in Nepal. Its farmers just needed tutoring to meet Japan’s exacting standards.

A quiet revolution got underway after earthquakes devastated much of Nepal in 2015. The Japanese sent specialists to the capital, Kathmandu, to help Nepali farmers get serious about making the stuff of cold, hard yen.

Before long, the instructors went up to Ilam district. In the local Limbu tongue, “Il-am” means “twisted path,” and the way there does not disappoint. The road from the nearest airport gets so rough that the first jeep needs changing out halfway — for an even more rugged four-wheel-drive.

By then, Mr. Sherpa had already gotten into the business and was producing 1.2 tons of usable bark a year, cutting his own argeli and boiling it in wooden boxes.

The Japanese taught him to steam off its bark instead, using plastic bundles and metal pipes. Next comes an arduous process of stripping, beating, stretching and drying. The Japanese also taught their Nepali suppliers to harvest each crop just three years after planting, before the bark reddens.

This year, Mr. Sherpa has hired 60 local Nepalis to help him process his harvest and expects to earn eight million Nepali rupees, or $60,000, in profit. (The average annual income in Nepal is about $1,340, according to the World Bank.) Mr. Sherpa hopes to produce 20 of the 140 tons that Nepal will be shipping to Japan.

That’s a majority of the mitsumata needed to print yen, enough to fill about seven cargo containers, winding downhill to the Indian port of Kolkata, to sail 40 days to Osaka. Hari Gopal Shreshta, the general manager of Kanpou’s Nepal arm, oversees this trade, inspecting and buying neatly tied bales in Kathmandu.

“As a Nepali,” said Mr. Shreshta, who is fluent in Japanese, “I feel proud of managing raw materials to print the currency of rich countries like Japan. That’s a great moment for me.”

It is an important moment for the yen, too. Every 20 years, the world’s third-most-traded currency goes in for a redesign. The current notes were first printed in 2004 — their replacements will hit cashiers in July.

The Japanese love their beautiful bills, with their elegant, understated designs in moiré printed on tough, off-white plant fiber instead of cotton or polymer.

The country’s attachment to hard currency makes it an outlier in East Asia. Fewer than 40 percent of payments in Japan are processed by cards, codes or phones. In South Korea, the figure is about 94 percent. But even for Japan, life is increasingly cashless; the value of its currency in circulation most likely peaked in 2022.

Japan’s central bank reassures everyone with a yen for yen that there are still enough physical notes to go around. The bank notes, if they were all stacked in one place, would stand 1,150 miles high, or 491 times as tall as Mount Fuji.

Before they found the yen trade, Nepali farmers like Mr. Sherpa had been looking for ways to migrate. Crop-hungry boars were just one problem. The lack of decent jobs was the killer. Mr. Sherpa said he had been ready to sell his land in Ilam and move, maybe to work in the Persian Gulf.

Years ago, Faud Bahadur Khadka, now a contented 55-year-old argeli farmer, had a bitter experience as a laborer in the Gulf. He went to Bahrain in 2014, promised a job at a supply company, but ended up working as a cleaner. Nonetheless, two of his sons went to work in Qatar.

Mr. Khadka says he is glad that “this new farming has somehow helped people to get both money and employment.” And he is hopeful: “If other countries also use Nepali crops to print their currencies,” he said, “that will stop the flow of Nepalis migrating to Gulf nations and India.”

The warm feeling is mutual. Tadashi Matsubara, the current president of Kanpou, said, “I would love for people to know how important Nepalis and their mitsumata is to the Japanese economy. Honestly, the new bank notes would not have been possible without them.”

Kiuko Notoya contributed reporting from Tokyo.

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