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After the hack that affected the Japanese cryptocurrency exchange, Coincheck on January 26, Coincheck announced it was going to have to pay back more than $500m to the 260, 000 customers that were affected. The attack has been termed, “The Biggest Digital Currency Theft In History.” because it was the most high profile case in several hacks to affect Japanese cryptocurrency firms.
Despite the risks that Japan have faced, and with what is happening with the neighbouring countries, China and South Korea who have their foot clamped on regulating the use of virtual currencies, Japan will not relent on having the title of being the first country to validate cryptocurrency as their legal tender. Historically, the Japanese economy has suffered from decades of inaction since the 1990s and has been dealt with a huge national debt with other problems such as shrinking population and tax base. However, the Tokyo Government is banking on cryptocurrencies and related technologies as the next opportunity to improve the Japanese economy as other other regional economies such as China and South Korea push back against them.
While the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) and the Chinese authorities banned initial coin offering (ICO) along with cryptocurrency trading in September 2017, South Korea also delivering a harsh blow to the cryptocurrency market as they placed a ban on anonymous cryptocurrency trading, the Japanese government have been far more welcoming. China has banned cryptocurrency exchanges and almost all related activities, while South Korea has banned anonymous transactions, one of the major attractions of cryptocurrencies, but stopped short of the outright prohibition it originally appeared to be threatening. The Japanese authorities, in contrast, have been far more welcoming.
Takashi Shiono, an economist at Credit Suisse in Tokyo is quoted saying “There are estimates that tax revenue from the cryptocurrency business, including capital gains taxes from individual investors and from corporations, could amount to 1 trillion yen (US$9.2 billion), though that is very speculative at this stage.”It came as a shock in April last year when Japan started accepting cryptocurrencies as an officially recognized method of transaction. Partner at law firm Anderson Mori & Tomotsune and adviser to finance-tech start-ups, Ken Kawai, said: “The government wants to facilitate fintech through cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. ”Digital currencies are quite popular among the Japanese youth who are moved by the thought of making strong gains in an economy that has seen ultra-low interest rates for many years and low returns from traditional assets and the hope that these crackdowns on the use of virtual currencies from other countries around the world will attract more investors to Tokyo.
Following the attack at Coincheck, some analysts expect to see an increase in Japanese regulation for cryptocurrencies but less than other countries in order to remain competitive.
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