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Millions of Japanese wait for gold coins

TOKYO -- Millions of Japanese waited in long lines outside banks and post offices across the country Thursday for a one-in-five chance of purchasing gold coins commemorating the 60th year of Emperor Hirohito's reign.

Ten million gold coins, priced at $650 each, or 100,000 yen, will be sold in November following a lottery drawing late this month.

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Some 67,000 financial institutions nationwide began handing out lottery tickets at 9 a.m.

In Tokyo's downtown business district, where the headquarters of major banks are located, people started gathering hours before the doors opened. By 9:30 a.m., a 1,000-strong crowd had massed around the Daiichi Kangyo Bank.

Businessmen, housewives and coin collectors were among the long lines that formed outside banks, post offices and other financial institutions.

'The coin's price will probably rise by $65 to $130 even the day after you buy it,' said one man in front of a branch office of the Fuji Bank.

All 50 million lottery tickets were distributed by midday, officials said.

Japan imported 223 tons of gold, mostly from the United States, this year to issue the 10 million 20-gram gold coins to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the emperor's reign.

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The government also minted 10 million silver coins, to be sold at $65 each, for the occasion.

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