A  four-coin series that debuted last August and finished this April, we’re rectifying our lack of coverage to date with some details of the whole of this unusual and interesting set of coins. Entitled the “Great East Japan Earthquake Reconstruction Project”, the Japan Mint has done a fine job with these. They were launched in four waves, each comprising a 1 oz coloured silver, and a ½ oz cleanly struck gold coin, the first gold coins from the Japan Mint in six years.

The coins in release waves 2, 3 and 4 were chosen from designs put forward by the Japanese public, over 2,500 having been sent for selection by the Japan Mint and the Ministry of Finance. The gold coins were designed by Kiyohiko Emoto (of Fukuoka Prefecture), Teruo Yausda (Tokyo), and Takashi Tadamoto (Osaka Prefecture) respectively. The silver coins were designed by Shoji Yoshida (of Tokyo), nine-year old Taichi Kojima (Kanagawa Prefecture), and Koji Komatsu (Kochi Prefecture) respectively. The reverse designs were common to all the coins and depicts the solitary pine tree that survived the tsunami in Rikuzentakata and which became the symbol of the reconstruction effort after it was named the ‘Miracle Pine’. It also incorporates a flight of pigeons.

The designs are an eclectic mix, as you’d expect when there is no central design process, but rather an open one, and it doesn’t get more open than asking the public to have a go. It has worked beyond expectations however, with no obviously weak designs and a quirkiness that brings to the set something rarely seen. All of the coins are packaged in decent quality snapper cases inside white shipper boxes. The only downside is that just around 10% of the coins are going to international markets, the rest going to Japanese customers, so prices have tended towards the higher side, £1000/$1400/€1300 for the gold, and £100/$150/€150 for the silver. All are available now and well worth a look.

FIRST SERIES

SECOND SERIES

2011 TOHOKU EARTHQUAKE AND TSUNAMI

The 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tōhoku was a magnitude 9.0 undersea megathrust earthquake off the coast of Japan that occurred at 14:46 JST (05:46 UTC) on Friday 11 March 2011, with the epicentre approximately 70 kilometres (43 mi) east of the Oshika Peninsula of Tōhoku and the hypocenter at an underwater depth of approximately 30 km (19 mi). The earthquake is also often referred to in Japan as the Great East Japan earthquake. It was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded to have hit Japan, and the fourth most powerful earthquake in the world since modern record-keeping began in 1900. The earthquake triggered powerful tsunami waves that reached heights of up to 40.5 metres (133 ft) in Miyako in Tōhoku’s Iwate Prefecture, and which, in the Sendai area, travelled up to 10 km (6 mi) inland. The earthquake moved Honshu (the main island of Japan) 2.4 m (8 ft) east, shifted the Earth on its axis by estimates of between 10 cm (4 in) and 25 cm (10 in), and generated sound waves detected by the low-orbiting GOCE satellite.

On 10 March 2015, a Japanese National Police Agency report confirmed 15,894 deaths, 6,152 injured, and 2,562 people missing across twenty prefectures, as well as 228,863 people living away from their home in either temporary housing or due to permanent relocation. A 10 February 2014 agency report listed 127,290 buildings totally collapsed, with a further 272,788 buildings ‘half collapsed’, and another 747,989 buildings partially damaged. The earthquake and tsunami also caused extensive and severe structural damage in north-eastern Japan, including heavy damage to roads and railways as well as fires in many areas, and a dam collapse. Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said, “In the 65 years after the end of World War II, this is the toughest and the most difficult crisis for Japan.” Around 4.4 million households in northeastern Japan were left without electricity and 1.5 million without water.

The tsunami caused nuclear accidents, primarily the level 7 meltdowns at three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex, and the associated evacuation zones affecting hundreds of thousands of residents. Many electrical generators were taken down, and at least three nuclear reactors suffered explosions due to hydrogen gas that had built up within their outer containment buildings after cooling system failure resulting from the loss of electrical power. Residents within a 20 km (12 mi) radius of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and a 10 km (6.2 mi) radius of the Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant were evacuated.

Early estimates placed insured losses from the earthquake alone at US$14.5 to $34.6 billion. The Bank of Japan offered ¥15 trillion (US$183 billion) to the banking system on 14 March in an effort to normalize market conditions. The World Bank’s estimated economic cost was US$235 billion, making it the costliest natural disaster in world history.  (Source: Wikipedia)

THIRD SERIES

FOURTH SERIES

MINTS DESCRIPTION

The Japan Mint has struck this legal tender 10,000 yen gold and 1,000 yen silver coins as part of the Great East Japan Earthquake reconstruction project, which has been designated as a national project. These coin are issued as four series under the Great East Japan Earthquake Reconstruction Project Commemorative Coin Program.

• Coins to commemorate the reconstruction project from Great East Japan Earthquake as a national event

• Issued throughout FY 2015 (April, 2015 – March, 2016), which is the final year of “concentrative reconstruction period (FY 2011 – 2015)”

• Some portion will be given to those who purchased “reconstruction-backup bond,” and others available to customers home and abroad.

• Obverse designs of 2nd – 4th Series were chosen from public submissions.

• Two kinds of denominations: – “10,000 Yen Gold Coin” – “1,000 Yen Colored Silver Coin”

SILVER DESIGNS

COIN 1: Large fishing boat and ears of rice

COIN 2: Sunrise over the Special Zones for Reconstruction and an origami crane

COIN 3: A young boy showing his support for Japan

COIN 4: The Japanese archipelago shaking hands and cherry blossom

GOLD DESIGNS

COIN 1: Special Zone for reconstruction, and doves

COIN 2: School and carp streamers

COIN 3: Origami crane

COIN 4: A bird with natures bounty

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SPECIFICATION

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
10,000 YEN 0.999 GOLD 15.6 g 26.0 mm PROOF 40,000 (60,000 coin 1) YES / YES
1,000 YEN 0.999 SILVER 31.1 g 40.0 mm PROOF 14,000 (1) 11,000 (2) 10,000 YES / YES
THE JAPAN MINT