Arnold Gladson told this story about the Japanese money found at Tarawa on the WWII discussion group.1 He wrote, "On the third day, just before the division left Tarawa, we blew off the door of a fairly large safe. Among other things, Japanese occupation money came flying out of the dust and debris. We had a 'mock' payday." Arnold also explained that the bulk of this currency was, "...given away to ships company that were on the transports and asking for souvenirs."
According to Arnold, this money had been specially printed to be used in the Gilbert Islands to pay laborers, who could exchange it for a bit of tobacco, a ration of rice, can of fish, or something like that. From the amount of money found the Japanese seemingly had great plans to spread throughout the Gilbert Islands.
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A fifty yen and a 10 yen bill are Japanese occupation currency liberated on Tarawa by Sgt. Edward Godwin. Notice what appears to be burn marks in the lower left corners. Sgt. Godwin must have witnessed this event. Credit: Tom Godwin.
copyright 1999 T.O.T.W.
Created 22 April 1999 - Updated 9 September 2000