National Army Museum, Waiouru, New Zealand : Military History & Army War Museum

Japanese Invasion Money

This collection of paper money, officially called Southern Development Bank Notes are examples of a special currency issued by the Japanese Military Authority after the conquest of various Asian countries during World War II.

In early 1942 the Japanese Government passed laws to establish two Banks. The Wartime Finance Bank loaned money primarily to aid war ventures such as power generation, ship building and petroleum, whilst the Southern Development Bank was established to provide financial services in occupied territories.

In an attempt to proclaim independence from the Western world, Japan produced this replacement currency to be used in the various areas they occupied which by the end of the war included: the Philippines, Malaya, Burma, North Borneo, Sarawak (now Malaysia), Singapore, Brunei, the Dutch East indies (now Indonesia) and some areas of Oceania (New Guinea and the Solomon and Gilbert Islands).

The first country to have it introduced was the Philippines where the Japanese military confiscated all hard currency and then replaced it with the Southern Development Bank Notes. The locals called it ‘Mickey Mouse Money’.

All notes bear the words “The Japanese Government” and depending on which country they are for, each note bears different names and serial numbers and/or letters.

The currency was worthless after liberation and much of the money was burned.