While an ageing society clearly affects a nation’s workforce and economic output, one concern the Japanese did not anticipate is the increase in people with poor eyesight that are using tender to pay their bills. As such, the Ministry of Finance will soon issue new notes for the benefit of people who are visually impaired.
Although Japan is the world’s third-largest economy, its ageing population is beginning to take a toll on the nation’s productivity. To address this, the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is coming out with different programs to incorporate and help the rising number of elderly in their day-to-day activities. This includes a new version of the ¥5,000, which would be a lot easier for blind people to distinguish with a few tweaks in its features. While the current notes already have holograms on the left corner on the front face of the bill, the new ones will have a different texture for better feel and would be more square-shaped to differentiate it from the ¥10,000 notes. Vice chairman of the Japan Federation of the Blind, Takayuki Suzuki said, “Holograms on the old notes were small, and so the new design will make it easier for blind people to feel the difference.”
As Japan’s population continues to shrink, with a quarter of the recorded 127.3 million people in 2013 aged 65 years and up, Suzuki estimates that it will continue to increase by at least 2,000 in the next two years. As such, the government has already taken the first steps to catering to the elderly with the release of the new bills on May 12. While the 5,000 notes are the first to be changed, other considerations are being planned already. “We’d like to see different notes having different widths and lengths like euros, but this would be difficult as all the vending machines in the nation would have to be adjusted,” said Suzuki.
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