Next up in my $5 journey is a discussion of the 2009 commemorative $5 coin that marked the 80th Anniversary of the opening of the Canadian Embassy in Japan...
The 2009 80th Anniversary of Canada in Japan $5 coin commemorated the first Canadian embassy in Japan and also honored the enduring, long-term friendship between Canada and Japan.
Formal diplomatic relations between Canada and Japan can be traced to 1889 when Japan opened its Consulate in Vancouver, BC. It was the first Japanese government mission in Canada. Growing trade relations between British Columbia and Japan, as well as an increasing number of Japanese immigrants in BC, were key drivers behind Japan's decision to establish a Consulate in Vancouver.
In 1928, Japan opened a diplomatic mission in Ottawa, Ontario. Canada followed suit by opening its first diplomatic mission in Asia in Tokyo, Japan on May 21, 1929; Sir Herbert Marler of Montréal served as its first head, serving from 1929 to 1936. With each of their missions in place, Canada and Japan enjoyed formal bilateral diplomatic relations for the first time.
Regarding relations between the two countries, the Government of Canada / Embassy of Canada to Japan web page states: "The Canada-Japan relationship is based on shared values: the promotion of human rights, a commitment to democracy and respect for the rule of law. This foundation has allowed all aspects of our relationship to flourish, including with respect to political relations, trade and investment, and people-to-people ties." The two countries are strong trading partners, work closely together through joint membership within several multi-national trade and economic organizations and also partner on regional and global security issues. They also collaborate on a number of educational programs for young people to help create and build strong cultural ties.
Based on the strong political and economic relationships between the two countries, it is not surprising that a coin commemorating their ties would be struck. Japan began numismatic celebrations of its relationships with other countries through the issue of special edition proof sets in 2006 with a set for Australia; the Canada-Japan relationship was honored in Japan's 2009 proof set. You can see the 2009 Proof Set with the Canadian $5 coin in a previous post of mine here: 2009 Canada-Japan Proof Set
Considering its established history with binational special edition commemorative proof sets, I'd be willing to bet that the idea for a 2009 Canada-Japan commemorative coin originated with the Japan Mint (JM) as it looked for countries to celebrate with in 2009.
The Canadian coin's commemorative design is fully allegorical, using local flora and fauna to represent each country -- a white-tailed deer and maple tree for Canada (at right), and a shika deer and cherry blossom tree for Japan. The two deer stand side-by-side, to symbolize the friendly, harmonious relations between the two countries. To the left of the shika deer is seen the Japanese character "Wa" which translates into English as "harmony."
The $5.00 coin is 36 millimeters in diameter and is sterling silver (0.925 fine) in composition (the same as the commemorative silver dollar in 2009). It was a Masters Club exclusive coin in 2009 with 5,000 individual coins available to order from the RCM
and 25,000 coins destined for special proof sets issued by the Japan Mint. MC members were able to order up to 10 of the coins from the RCM
. (Note: The RCM web site lists the maximum mintage for the coin as 40,000. I have come to believe this is a mistake and that the figure should be 30,000. I base this belief on RCM press releases and published reports issued at the time.)
The coin was released on July 22, 2009; its issue price was $47.95 CAD (the same as the 2009 regular issue proof silver dollar - 100th Anniversary of Flight in Canada
). The Mint's Annual Report for 2009 lists sales for the coin at 27,872, but it does not identify the split between domestic sales and those that became part of Japan's 2009 Proof Sets. The Japan Mint web site lists the "Scheduled Mintage" for the proof set to be 25,000, but I have yet to find actual sales figures for the Japanese set. If the Japan Mint took all 25,000 of its allotted coins, the final RCM
sales figure of 27,872 would indicate sales of the individual coin to be less than 3,000 at 2,872.
While the 2009 $5 Canada-Japan coin is generally available, the RCM
struck a closely-related piece that is far less common. In 1991, as part of the celebrations connected to the opening of the new chancery of the Canadian embassy in Tokyo, Japan, the RCM
was commissioned to strike a special commemorative medal. The medal was sponsored by a group of banks (see image of paperwork below for the list) and was presented to individuals involved with the embassy, the new chancery (embassy building) and sponsoring bank VIPs; it was not a "for sale" item that was available for purchase from the Mint. The new building had its opening ceremony on May 27, 1991; the event was attended by Canadian and Japanese dignitaries and their guests.
The obverse of the medal depicts a bird's eye view of the new embassy building; the Canadian Coat of Arms is presented on the reverse. (Images of the medal and its original paperwork are shown below.) I do not know the mintage figure for the medal, though I would imagine it to be no more than 400 or 500. (If anyone has access to the RCM
Annual Report for 1991, I would greatly appreciate it if he/she could check to see if the medal's mintage is listed and, if it is, report it here!) In any case, I was happy to add the limited edition medal to my collection and think it's a great tie-in to the $5 Friendship coin.
The medal was struck on a 36 mm plain-edged silver planchet as a proof; it weighs just over an ounce at 31.22 grams (by my scale). There is no indication of fineness on the medal, but I would guess the planchet is 0.925 fine silver (sterling silver) as the RCM
was using sterling silver planchets for its $20 Aviation Series coins at the time and would begin using sterling silver for its SDs in 1992. I do plan to have the medal tested at my next opportunity, however. (Yes, I could do a specific gravity test but I prefer to use the digital tester at my local coin shop instead.)1991 New Embassy Medal: Obverse1991 New Embassy Medal: ReverseNew Embassy Medal Certificate: Front PanelNew Embassy Medal Certificate: Inner PanelsNew Embassy Medal Certificate: Back Panel
The Canada-Japan $5 silver coin was another that I purchased years ago - back in 2011. I paid $50 CAD for it, two dollars over issue. So, it's another coin that cost me more than my $40 per coin budget and brings my four-coin total to $155 against a target of $160. It's time to hunt for bargains!