I was so surprised to know that only 3 percent of all transactions in Sweden are made by cash. It is almost a cashless economy.
But Japan is moving to the cashless society, too. In fact, the number of 1 yen coins, 5 yen coins and 50 yen coins that were minted for circulation in 2011 was ‘zero’. The biggest reason is the spread of prepaid cards such as Pasmo and Suica. These are issued by private railway companies and JR respectively. Both of those were originally only for train fares. But now these can be also used for shopping in many bending machines and stores both inside and outside railway stations. Definitely, Pasmo and Suica are very convenient for foreign tourists traveling in and around Tokyo. Because isn’t it a hassle to find appropriate coins at the register counter? If you have one, you just put it on registers or the ticket gates.
Anyway, it is said that it costs three yen to mint a one yen coin. So making 1 yen coins causes deficits for the government. The cashless economy could help to reduce the huge debts of the Japanese government. But you want to say ‘it’s too small’? In Japan there is a famous expression; one who laughs at one yen will cry for one yen:)