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Local Currency

The expression "local currency" refers to complementary currency used only in a defined region as an alternative to the national currency. Local currency can be further divided into four general types: paper currency, bankbook recordings, checks, and time dollars. People use local currencies within a region for local, small-scale circulation, which can include use as payment in a local shopping area or as a token of gratitude for volunteer work or a service rendered. In addition, local currencies have been drawing attention as a means to revitalize a community or stimulate a regional economy. In 1999, the NHK satellite television broadcast of "Michael Ende's Last Message: Questioning Money from Its Roots" became a catalyst for local currency efforts in Japan, which then spread throughout the country. Currently, over 600 local currencies exist in Japan, including a currency called 'Rate' (pronounced ra-tay), issued by Sanjo City in Niigata Prefecture, and Earth Day Money known as 'R' (pronounced a-ru), a local currency used around the Shibuya district in Tokyo and spreading from there (data procured from the All Local Currencies List: (Japanese only) on January 6, 2011). Well known local currencies from outside of Japan include Ithaca HOURS (, used in Ithaca, New York State, USA, and LETS (Local Exchange Trading System), which began in Canada and has spread to other countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia.

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