Paper Money

Australia made copies of JIM notes in WWII

Australian government-authorized copies of World War II-era Japanese invasion money for use in Netherlands East Indies were printed by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, according to an article in the January-March 2012 issue of the IBNS Journal, published by the International Bank Note Society.

A cache of letters tucked away in a file in the Reserve Bank of Australia archives proved to be a treasure chest of information to a researcher.

Tony James writes that while he was looking for information about another subject, an archivist provided him copies of the letters unearthing evidence of Australian copies of Indonesian Japanese invasion money from World War II. Japan issued special notes for use in countries it occupied during the war.

James writes that on Dec. 8, 1941, Japanese military forces invaded Malaya and the Philippines, and the Netherlands declared war on Japan. Throughout 1942 the Japanese established outposts in the Netherlands East Indies.

The first letter, dated Oct. 5, 1942, was written on letterhead from the Netherlands Indies Commission for Australia and New Zealand, located in Melbourne by Dr. R.E. Smits, managing director of the Javasche Bank and sent to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Sydney.

According to James, the letter stated: “In order to effectively prosecute the war against Japan the Government of the Netherlands East Indies considers it essential to have at its disposal supplies of currency similar to that issued by Japan for circulation in the Netherlands East Indies. The need is urgent and we have to request you to arrange to supply us as soon as they can be printed with the following quantities of notes which resemble as closely as possible the specimen notes handed to your Melbourne manager.”

The letter requested 12,800 half-gulden notes, 30,000 10-cent notes, 10,000 5-cent notes and 10,000 1-cent notes. James writes that a handwritten notation on the letter, by B. Lathham (secretary of the Note Issue Department), states: “I saw Mr. Chifley (then Australia’s finance minister - ed.) at Canberra on 30.9.42 & told him of Dr. Smits’ wishes including his views regarding absolute secrecy. I stated that we proposed to meet Dr. Smits’ wishes provided Mr. Chifley raised no serious objections. Mr. Chifley said he fully appreciated that action of this sort is necessary in war; that the Axis is already doing what we propose to do & he is quite satisfied for us to go ahead. He will leave the whole matter in our hands.”

James offers details about the denominations, block numbers and sometimes the serial numbers for the JIM notes issued by the Japanese government for the Netherlands East Indies.

In other articles, Peter Symes writes about the first 10 years of bank notes of Bangladesh; N.A. Sheydor writes about translating the different Islamic dates used on bank notes and coins; Hans Ludwig Grabowski writes about the demand for Chinese paper money; Jonathan Callawy contributes an article about Robert Owen and the National Equitable Labour Exchange “labour notes”; an article about the Andean condor as a symbol of strength and power was written by Miguel Chirinos; and John Laureijsen contributes an article about bank notes from the occupation of Greece in World War II.

For more information about the IBNS, write to IBNS Membership Secretary Roger Urce, Box 289, Saint James, NY 11780-0289, or email him at ¦

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