Currency Blocs: The Yen

  • Michael SchiltzEmail author
Reference work entry


Historically, unilateral political attempts at boosting the liquidity and prestige of a currency have rarely been successful. In the context of catastrophic events as, for instance, a World War, several countries have nevertheless experimented with schemes to develop currency blocs. This chapter describes the Japanese experiment with establishing an economic zone in which the yen was either the main or the sole currency of reference. We proceed chronologically. Taiwan and Korea are explained as consolidating currency policy in the nascent Japanese empire. World War I temporarily reversed Japan’s balance of payments problem. It heralded bold attempts at incorporating China within the Japanese yen-bloc, by means of aggressive lending schemes. Although the latter failed, the yen-bloc became an important political objective throughout the 1930s. The chapter explores the financial technology that governed the monetary set-up of the wartime empire, and it attempts to explain why it contained the seeds of its destruction.


Imperialism Gold-exchange standard Blocism Japan 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of International HistoryGraduate Institute, GenevaGenevaSwitzerland

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