The National Printing Bureau was founded on July 27, 1871 (Meiji 4) as the Paper Money Office (Shiheishi) under the Ministry of Finance, and in August the same year it was renamed the Paper Money Bureau (Shiheiryo). The services undertaken by the bureau during the initial years of its foundation were general affairs under the government’s paper money policy, including the issuance and exchange of paper money and the licensing and nurturing of national banks (privately-managed banks).
In those days, technology suitable for printing modern banknotes was not yet well developed in Japan, so the Meiji Government consigned the production of paper notes to Germany and the United States. As calls for the domestic production of paper money grew, it was decided that the Paper Money Bureau should make efforts to produce paper money domestically. In January 1872 (Meiji 5), the scope of the bureau’s work was formally extended to include printing and papermaking services, ranging from the production of paper money, and securities and postage stamps, to typographic printing.
On October 15, 1877 (Meiji 10), the Paper Money Bureau began producing Japan’s first home-made paper money -- a one-yen National Banknote called “Shinken” or “New Note” -- thus taking the first step as a pioneer in modern printing and papermaking in Japan, in reality as well as in name.
The Paper Money Bureau merged on January 1, 1898 (Meiji 31) with the Official Gazette Bureau, which was engaged in the issuance of the Official Gazette -- first published on July 2, 1898 (Meiji 16) -- thus starting anew as an operational bureau.
After a number of transitions in organizational status, in April 2003 (Heisei 15) the bureau took a new step forward as an incorporated administrative agency, its present status.
Since it foundation, the National Printing Bureau has responded to public trust, by providing a stable and secure supply of products required by the national economy, utilizing the advanced anticounterfeiting measures, efficient production technologies, and strict manufacturing control systems it has innovated through its own research and development.
The bureau's continuing aim is to contribute to society through maintaining the high levels of expertise and trust for which it has come to be known worldwide.