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MUSINGS / Jan. 3, 2019

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun’s Jan. 3 issue.

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At the end of last year, I was a bit careless on a trip to a coffee shop that I frequent. Not that I am particularly wealthy, but when I went to pay for my cup of coffee, I noticed I only had bills featuring Yukichi Fukuzawa [¥10,000 bills] in my wallet, so I had to trouble them to give me 9,000 plus a few hundred yen in change.

The shop readily accepted the bill nonetheless, and as I put away the change, I realized some of the ¥1,000 bills were crumpled. There was a sink for washing dishes right behind the cash register. I suppose they sometimes handle bills with wet hands when a customer has to leave while they are at the sink.

At that moment, I was reminded of a measure the government plans to take in response to the upcoming consumption tax rate hike. I am referring to the point-reward program for purchases made with cashless payments.

The rebate will be 5 percent of such purchases at small and midsize stores, and 2 percent at convenience stores. With the tax rate hike coming up in October, many shopkeepers must be conflicted at the beginning of the New Year about whether to move on from their cash register and adopt equipment for credit-card payments. Even small privately owned shops may see a change of scenery around their cash register this year.

Without mentioning senior citizens and others who are unaccustomed to credit cards, what will become of the people who go about their work while moving from the sink to the cash register?

Feeling as if I have been given something extremely precious, I still hang on to a crumpled bill bearing a portrait of Hideyo Noguchi [a ¥1,000 bill].Speech

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