Japanese paper currency is printed with the faces of various prominent figures.  However, rather than past or present leaders, like many countries do, the yen banknotes are decorated with writers and a scientist.

For example, the 10,000 yen (US$124) bill has the likeness of Fukuzawa Yukichi, a highly influential writer during Japan’s transition from the feudal system to modern government.  He is also known to have never smiled in a photograph, which is why when one man attempted to spend a 1,000,000 yen (US$12,400) bill with a picture of a grinning Yukichi, the clerk’s suspicion was aroused.

On 2 November police apprehended 34 year-old Kenji Imazu on suspicion of fraud in Nagoya after he successfully spent the toy currency.  Police are also looking into further cases involving the unemployed man.

On 14 October, Imazu allegedly entered a Family Mart outside of Imaike Station in Nagoya and purchased a piece of fried chicken (Family Mart’s specialty) for 140 yen (US$1.75).  He paid using the 1,000,000 yen bill.

The clerk, thinking it was a regular 10,000 yen bill gave Imazu 9,860 yen (US$122.25) in change.  By the time the clerk saw Yukichi laughing at him the suspect had fled the scene.

Police were able to track him down using the store’s surveillance camera.  According to their report Imazu “had gotten printed sheets of the fake money from a friend. He then cut and pasted to sides together.  He just wanted money.”

Source: Yomiuri Online (Japanese)