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3. What is the origin of the Yen (Image of yen), unit of the Japanese currency?

The Yen was stipulated under the New Coinage Act in 1871. There are various reasonable explanations of the origin. Complete documentation is unavailable, however, roughly there may be three kinds of explanations.

  1. The shape of coin was converted from square into round. In Japan we pronounce Yen for roundness.
  2. At the establishment of the Mint the manufacturing machines such as rolling and pressing ones were imported from Hong Kong Royal Mint, U .K., which produced silver dollar coins with denomination inscription of 1 Yen (Image of yen) (Yuan in Chinese, Yen in Japanese) on the surface.
  3. In the Edo period (1603~1868) the unit of Yen was already introduced from China, and served as the common word used among intellectual upper class such as politicians and governmental officials. The Meiji government officially adopted the name Yen in 1872.

Supplementary reason for adopting Yen may be as follows:

  1. If "Image of yen"is described as “En”, it is difficult for foreigners to pronounce as Japanese do.
    The present Chinese currency unit is "Image of yuan" or "Yuan", however, "Image of yen" or "Yuan" is used on the surface of the Chinese currency. ("Image of yuan" is an abbreviation of "Image of yen".) In Japan currently we use "Image of yen", the abbreviated Chinese character of "Image of yen".
  2. As in China "Image of yen", the unit of paper-note, was pronounced "Yuan", so the Japanese "Image of yen" described as "Yen". (At that time "Edo" was described as "Yedo").
  3. Since in French "En" means "In", in Dutch "En" means "And", "En" was avoided for the spelling mistakes and complexity.