Japanese Government on Bitcoin

The Japanese government has answered some questions by opposition Member of Parliament Okubo. He has posted this answer on his website (in Japanese language).

I would like to restrict myself to some very short comments right now, which are mostly concerned with the format of the answer.

For one, it is very annoying that the PDF-file the government provided is in a format written not from left to right, but from top to bottom. That makes it hard to read on a computer screen, which is usually much wider than it is high. So to read this, a lot of people will print it out, wasting valuable resources.

Next, these answers are very short. Having just spent writing over 25 pages just to deal with the question if you need a banking license to operate a bitcoins exchange in the way MtGox did, I find these answers rather lacking in depth and detail. And the answer “We don’t know” comes up rather often. As the government paper says right at the start, they are still collecting information and investigating these issues.

But the most important observation for the time being: This government answer only summarizes how the Japanese government understands existing law. It says nothing about how they might regulate the Bitcoin network in the future.

For example, when I discussed reports from unconfirmed sources about this document on Wednesday, I thought that the government wanted to issue some new rules that prevent banks and securities firms from dealing in bitcoins. It turns out I was wrong about that. All the government says is that in their understanding of existing laws, banks and securities firms are already not allowed to offer Bitcoin network related services.

It may be open to debate if that is true. I would like to come back later and discuss that issue. But this paper does not want to set any new policy. It only wants to describe the law as it already exists today.

Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003, lenzblog.com).

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