Japan's ruling party drops Bitcoin regulation plans

For now, at least, Japanese authorities will not take steps to regulate cryptocurrency.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer
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Japan's Liberal Democratic Party, the current leading power in the country, will not regulate Bitcoin -- at least for now.

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After the collapse of once-dominant Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, based in Tokyo, Japanese authorities held talks to decide whether the virtual currency required regulation. In February, the Bitcoin trading post suddenly closed its doors after losing approximately 850,000 BTC, worth $450,000 at the time. Several months later, the shuttered exchange — which lost customer funds due to years of systematic cyberattacks that went under the radar — said it had rediscovered 200,000 BTC in old wallets.

While few details have been officially released concerning the demise of the Bitcoin exchange, it is believed that poor security and flawed accountancy practices allowed such a vast amount of the cryptocurrency to vanish, resulting in the firm's bankruptcy. The company is now officially under US bankruptcy protection, and has also applied for the same protection in Japan.

Governmental bodies around the world are considering how, if at all, to regulate virtual currency. The high-profile failure of the Bitcoin exchange has left regulators concerned about protecting investments, and questioning whether the decentralized currency — which is not overseen by any central bank — should be brought under control. In Japan, officials have decided that pushing through legislation to control cryptocurrency is not appropriate — at least, for now. On Thursday, Takuya Hirai, an LDP lawmaker and leader of the Japanese party's Internet media unit, said:

Basically, we concluded that we will, for now, avoid a move towards legal regulation.

China, however, has taken a hard line with Bitcoin, and has strangled virtual currency-based businesses in the country. The People's Bank of China (PBOC) ruled from April that banks and payment firms had to stop trading in the currency, and all the accounts opened by the operators of websites that trade in cryptocurrency had to close, or be frozen.

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