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Ehime gov't exchanges 99% of 'donated' damaged notes for 100 mil. yen in new cash

Wads of deteriorated 10,000 yen notes that arrived at the Ehime Prefectural Government's office via a parcel delivery service are seen on Feb. 14, 2019. (Mainichi/ Aoi Hanazawa)

MATSUYAMA -- The Ehime Prefectural Government announced on Aug. 29 that severely deteriorated banknotes which were delivered to its office as a "donation" in January were verified to be exchangeable for about 100 million yen in new cash.

Bank of Japan (BOJ) employees spent about four months prizing apart 20 wads of 10,000 yen notes piece by piece and authenticating them. The bills were stuck together and discolored, apparently due to water absorption. The BOJ identified approximately 99% of the bills as valid, and verified that they are exchangeable for a total of 106.61 million yen (about $1 million).

The prefectural government will put about half of the money into funds for childcare support and the rest to disaster prevention, for use in the next fiscal year and beyond.

The banknotes arrived at the prefectural government headquarters in western Japan on Jan. 29 in a cardboard box addressed to "the governor of Ehime" that was shipped by a parcel delivery company. A handwritten letter was attached, in which the writer expressed hope the money would be of use for something and asked officials to refrain from trying to make contact.

The prefectural government received the banknotes as a donation of an estimated 100 million yen from an unknown sender and asked the BOJ's Matsuyama Branch to confirm and exchange them.

Under the Bank of Japan Act, a damaged banknote which is still two-thirds of its original size can be changed for its original amount, while two-fifths of a bill is judged to be worth half of its value.

A total of 10,722 10,000 yen notes were identified at appraisals conducted between mid-March and July. Of these, 84 were judged to be worth half their original price, and another 19 were deemed invalid.

A BOJ employee in charge of the appraisals said, "As the banknotes are seriously damaged, it took a long time to peel each one out."

Ehime Gov. Tokihiro Nakamura said, "I'd like to express my gratitude again to the donor for their goodwill. We will definitely use their gift effectively."

(Japanese original by Aoi Hanazawa, Matsuyama Bureau)

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