Japanese Occupation Currency

When the Japanese occupied territories they started issuing their own currency to both keep local economies going and to highlight their new status as rulers. They frequently withdrew local currencies and issued new paper currency, metals being needed for their war effort. These currencies were frequently subject to massive inflation and once territories were liberated, huge quantities were burnt. They were however a free, portable and interesting souvenir for troops who liberated these territories and so were often brought back home. The following notes are examples of those used in Malaya and Burma:


The notes issued in Malaya were in the form of cents and dollars and were commonly known as ‘banana’ notes after the device on the ten dollar note and the perceived lack of value. Hyper inflation and numerous counterfeit notes were both problems that the currency created. Despite the range of local languages in Malaya, the notes are only printed in English and Japanese:


Burma used the rupee rather than the dollar, so this denomination is used here. Unlike Malaya which had note prefixes starting ‘M’, Burma used the letter ‘B’

The reverse of the notes are quite simple, just repeating the denominations of each bank note:

These notes are still pretty worthless in monetary terms, with few even eighty years later being worth their face-value. Despite this, they make for fascinating collectables and a reminder of the grim reality of Japanese occupation for the native populations of South East Asia.

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