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Abe timed yen redesign for maximum political effect

Riding on Imperial accession, prime minister eyes summer election and tax hike

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe unveiled new bank notes now to take advantage of the celebratory mood surrounding the ascension of a new emperor.

TOKYO -- The announcement of the Japanese bank note redesign Tuesday followed a carefully prepared script with heavy political calculations by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and top government officials, looking to capitalize on the ascension of a new emperor and the unveiling of the next Imperial era name.

The Finance Ministry, led by Taro Aso, had worked on the plan in secrecy since the idea surfaced in spring 2018. It was Abe and Aso, Abe's deputy prime minister and a close ally, who made the final calls on the new designs and the timing of the announcement.

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